Home » psychology

Tag: psychology

TotD: Thomas Szasz on Language

The Untamed TongueReligion and the jargon of the helping/hindering professions are comprised largely of literalized metaphors. That is why they are the perfect tools for legitimizing and illegitimizing ideas, behaviors, and persons.

Ordinary language combines all of these qualities. It can be used literally and precisely, to convey meaning; metaphorically or poetically, to move people; or 'religiously,' to blind and numb people, making them feel elevated or debased.
"In the natural sciences, language (mathematics) is a useful tool: like the microscope or telescope, it enables us to see what is otherwise invisible. In the social sciences, language (literalized metaphor) is an impediment: like a distorting mirror, it prevents us from seeing the obvious.

That is why in the natural sciences, knowledge can be gained only with the mastery of their special languages; whereas in human affairs, knowledge can be gained only by rejecting the pretentious jargons of the social sciences.

Thomas Szasz, The Untamed Tongue: A Dissenting Dictionary

Review: Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher

Writing to Change the World
I haven’t actu­al­ly fin­ished Mary Pipher’s Writ­ing to Change the World yet, so it’s prob­a­bly weird for me to be doing a review. It’s a real­ly meaty lit­tle book, though, and I haven’t fin­ished it because I keep going back to re-read sec­tions or copy some of the quotes scat­tered through the text. 

The focus of the book is on per­sua­sive writ­ing. I like the fact that Pipher acknowl­edges the pow­er of sto­ries and fic­tion to inspire change.

I’ve got to return it to the library (it’s way late, because I didn’t want to let go of it), but I’m def­i­nite­ly going to find a copy of my own soon. As I real­ly don’t buy that many books, pre­fer­ring to read them from the library, buy­ing a copy after I read the library’s copy is pret­ty high praise.

I’ve admired Pipher for years, since read­ing Reviv­ing Ophe­lia and The Shel­ter of Each Oth­er, but some­thing I learned today rais­es her even high­er in my esteem. Last year, she returned an award she received from the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion to protest the APA’s con­tin­u­ing sup­port of tor­ture by the U.S. gov­ern­ment. The arti­cle includes her let­ter to the APA, and I encour­age you to read it.

No! Don’t Wanna!

My ther­a­pist, L, is no longer with the prac­tice I’ve been see­ing for the last cou­ple of years. It took a year to get to her — first, they assigned me to M, who was a total pain in the ass and didn’t lis­ten. Not that I was inclined to talk to her, any­way. And she didn’t return phone calls.

So I final­ly got beyond the “get­ting to know you” stage with L, and she under­stands our fam­i­ly and some his­to­ry and such, so she can put things in con­text. And I think they fired her! They weren’t even going to tell me she wouldn’t be there for my appoint­ment this evening. I called to ask her some­thing and her num­ber had been dis­con­nect­ed, which prompt­ed me to talk to the office idiots.

I. Am. Not. HAPPY! It’s a major PITA to break in a new ther­a­pist. I mean, it is for any­body, but when you have a bunch of inter­lock­ing issues and heavy his­to­ry crap, then you add in chron­ic illness/​disability, and just for fun mix in that whole bi/​pagan/​poly thing, believe me, it’s worse. And some ther­a­pists aren’t up to it. In fact, the one I saw a cou­ple of times before see­ing some­one at this prac­tice told me and Sam at the sec­ond ses­sion that she was in over her head and need­ed to refer me elsewhere.

Oh — the new per­son doesn’t do evening appoint­ments, either. Which means that the only way I can be sure of get­ting there is to take a taxi, as I have not had good expe­ri­ences with using MARTA for any­thing time-sen­si­tive. Expen­sive, but not as dif­fi­cult as hav­ing Sam take time off from work. But L coördinated my appoint­ments with Katie’s appoint­ments with anoth­er ther­a­pist in the same prac­tice, which was nice. Who knows if this one will be as helpful?

Grrrr.