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Thursday, April 12, 2012


Is the word "empathic" a tribal signifier?

Use of "empathetic" in place of "empathic" is one of my pet peeves. And the word "competency" sets my teeth on edge. What's wrong with "competence"?

And physicians say "sontameter", when people who don't they are God say "centimeter". Tomato-tomahto, potato-potahto, let's call the whole thing off.

It's interesting. Another word commonly used by psychologists (even experimental psychologists like me) is "dysphoric", and I think it's rarely used by non-psychologists. I thought that it had made its way into everyday vocabulary -- but one day in conversation with my mother I used the word in reference to someone we knew, and she hadn't heard it.


and "affect."

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday. It said: Reverend Leroy Jenkins. I wondered about that. I know and understand (I think) the words empathy and empathic. Empathetic appears to be a hybrid---an invention, if you might...
Similarly, I have wondered how Mao Tse Tung became Mao Ze Dong. Someone told me it might have been a linguistic faux pas.
If so, it took a long time to sort itself out. Language is, uh, dysphoric---isn't it?

Or might that be: dispeptic (burrrp!)?

Yes, 'affect' is another great example. It seems like a word that could easily make its way into common vocabulary but hasn't.

Outside our field, the word "empathic" has come to mean something that has more to do with "psychic" than "concerned with others' feelings".

Consider how few people, within or without our field, use the word "psychic" to mean "of the psyche".

Oh, yeah, psychic.

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