Xenia Turkova — how popularization of psychology has changed our speech and what the fate of the psychological terms in Russian language.
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All “in therapy” and around solid empathy
Try an experiment: try typing the word “toxic” in Google and click on the tab “news”. Almost all the links that you will see will be about people and not about substances: toxic Putin adviser toxic, toxic man (collective image), the mayor of Moscow Sobyanin as a “toxic brand”.
Over the last few years with this adjective has witnessed rapid changes that have not yet had time to fix dictionaries — they continue to interpret the word “toxic” as “capable to cause a poisoning”. But in common speech this word is more often sounds not in the literal and figurative sense. Called toxic people, relationships, TV programs, even the policy environment.
This feature drew the attention of the linguist Maxim krongauz. He noted that the word “toxic” began to be used more often and differently than before, and therefore cause some irritation. Krongauz calls him one of the key words today. “What, where, why? he asks and reminds: — Susan Forward wrote a book called “Toxic parents” in 1989. It’s funny that the book was translated into Russian in 2015 (it would seem, here it is) as “bad parents.” Where is the trigger that leads to local language explosion and popularity of the word right now?”
With Maxim Krongauz agrees linguist-expert Mikhail Osadchy. According to him, in the English speaking world the metaphor of a “toxic” is likely to have appeared to the psychological discourse in General and the book Forward in particular. She explained the choice of the adjective so (translation of Mikhail Osadchy): “When I was looking for a word to describe something in common, what unites these malicious parents, the word that kept spinning in my head was “toxic”. Like a chemical toxin, the emotional pain inflicted by these parents, reflects on the whole being of the child and as the child increases, so does the pain. What word could serve better than “toxic” to describe those parents who injure their children, brutally treated and insulted them, and in most cases continue to do so even after their children have grown up?”
However, the psychological discourse is not the only source of this metaphor. Mikhail Osadchy recalls the global financial crisis of 2008 — it was then that the adjective “toxic” as a way of describing what is happening has experienced a surge in popularity. Although the splash — in this case, a very weak word. The metaphor “toxic” filled the entire space, literally poisoning people with negative news about the economy. Scientists from the University of Amsterdam even dedicated a separate study, showing how it developed in the media “family of toxic metaphors”.
Well, in the Russian media, the word “toxic” came in two ways: through Finance and through psychology.
Asking a rhetorical question, “Where is the trigger?”, Maxim krongauz uses another word, which became popular thanks to psychology.
The popularization of psychology and psychotherapeutic practices have led to the fact that in our ordinary, not professional speech “settled” a lot of words from this area.
The proverbial “cognitive dissonance” which recently jumped to the right and left and who even got in “a Dictionary of buzz words”, had to make room: the popular and in some sense became fashionable “trauma”, “awareness”, “border”, “trigger” and other psychological terms. “No matter who you listen to — all “in therapy”,” jokes one commenter on the page of Maxim Krongauz, and the second adds: — “A continuous around empathy!”
Call getliteral and close gestaltic
The popularization of psychology and the penetration of psychological terms in everyday speech — the phenomenon is actually not new, said psychotherapist Alain Prihodko: “Recall “Freudian slip”!” But lately, she says, the psychological vocabulary in ordinary speech was really a lot more. This is especially noticeable in network environment, Facebook. Through the discussions, said Alain Prihodko the people learned, for example, such phenomena as gaslighting (a form of psychological violence, whose main task — to cause a person to doubt the adequacy of their perception of reality) and victimblaming (blame the victim).
The latter term has helped to replicate the flash mob #aboussafy and #metoo. The topic of violence is discussed openly, people learned about the phenomena, which have not been thought before, and the popularization of the terms in this case — rather a positive phenomenon, psychologists say.
However, some psychological terminology from the frequent use began to depreciate or even be used incorrectly.
The fate of the same of gaslighting care journalist, popular blogger Ah the Valley, who frequently writes psychological issues (particularly on toxic relationship): “Personally, I worry about the term “gaslighting”, which is gradually moving into the everyday language of psychology. The word came from Hollywood classics of the 1940 film Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman in the lead role, represents a brutal form of emotional abuse when the partner systematically makes the victim doubt their own adequacy. But now this term is often used in a mocking devalues the outrage on the social networks: “And she said that I gaslighter””.
But if gaslighting, according to her, these changes only began to occur, then, for example, the familiar Gestalt suffered a more tragic fate: “what just small everyday processes are not now called by some “closed gestalte”, even funny. Flowers are the former on March 8, “closing of gestaltic”. Although in reality the term “Gestalt” was introduced as an attempt to describe the complex system of human perception of reality.”
You yelled at the child, but his injury
A victim of the promotion was the word trauma, psychologists say. People began to throw the term right and left, and it can even be dangerous.
“The man stepped on the foot, and he says that he is injured, — says Alena, Prihidko. Is the word very publicized, it is especially popular with moms who are afraid to hurt their children some rude word. And in fact, the concept of trauma is initially due to the situation, which is unbearable for a person, begins with a strong shock and is associated with some serious loss, acute grief. I can’t say that you shouted at the child, and it hurt.”
According to her, it is a vicious circle: people use the word wrong, scare themselves and can drive itself into such a alarm that can really be traumatic.
The depreciation of the terms due to the fact that they come in everyday speech — not only a Russian phenomenon. Psychotherapist Maria Bulgakova, who works in the UK, said that the popularization of psychology has led to the fact that people have become “throw” diagnoses: “Everything began to diagnose each other’s narcissism, reading the Internet. And this personality disorder is not so common. Narcissism is psychiatry, and not having 100 of selfies on instagram. And if a person behaves selfishly, this is not narcissism, but many people immediately mold label. Same thing with many other diagnoses.”
At the same time, psychologists admit that the popularity of these words in everyday speech is still more good than bad. Even if the meaning of words gets distorted sometimes, if people are learning more about psychological processes is a sign of civilization.
Because we represent the heart and how the blood circulates, why not get to know better about how our feelings?