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Therapy-Speak Seeps Into The Land Where Everyone Seems To Have A Shrink

Argentines readily discuss their moods and states of mind — and that's a good thing, as long as we don't pretend to actually diagnose each other, writes a psychologist.

People sitting on chairs while writing on notebooks

People mentioning their mental and emotional challenges makes them feel less isolated.

Flavio Calvo


BUENOS AIRES — Here are a few typical moments in Argentina: a girl is unwell, but her friend tells her it's all "psychosomatic." Another calls her partner "a narcissist." Your mood changes; you conclude you must be bipolar. You forget something and call it a "memory lapse."

I heard someone tell a friend they were doing things "unconsciously," while in debates ahead of Argentina's presidential elections on Oct. 22, viewers are looking out for a "Freudian slip" from one of the candidates.

Every day we keep hearing people use terms meant, essentially, for the world of psychology and therapy. And that is due to psychology's increasing popularity in modern society — and especially in Argentina.

Common knowledge?

Increasing awareness of mental health issues and emotional well being has led people to know more about psychological concepts, and to begin including them in daily language. While the media, including television shows and social media, have played an important role in spreading these terms, people simply want to understand themselves and others better. The language of psychology is thus often used to describe and explain our own conducts, thoughts and emotions.

Just to give something a name has a cathartic quality.

This can help us interpret our experiences and to connect with others through a shared language to express concerns and reflections. But increased use of psychological terms has also to do with the fact that people are more open today and less ashamed about talking about mental health.

People are comfortable mentioning their emotional and mental challenges, which helps them feel less isolated. Prejudices have dropped in recent years, and nobody believes seeing a psychologist is a thing for "crazies." Today, people understand that mental health and having a personal space are important.

image of a person holding a notebook with mental health and psychology terms written in it

Psychology terms and labels can give us a much more helpful framework for understanding the human mind.

Jeff James/Unsplash

What's your problem?

In a challenging world, psychology terms and labels can give us a much more helpful framework for understanding the human mind. Psychosomatic symptoms, projections, subconscious errors and Freudian slips and reactions: with these terms, we seek to order and classify our experiences and give them sense.

By providing a measure of clarity, they can aid communication and resolution of our states. Just to give something a name has a cathartic quality that may prompt positive emotions. Many patients feel they are not alone when a therapist puts a term to how they feel.

Psychology also has an important influence on popular culture. Films, television series and books often speak of psychological themes or depict characters with different personality conditions and traits. For many, this helps them feel "reflected" in situations shown on screen. When a character is fighting anxiety, we can identify if we have had similar moments in our lives.

How psychology terms creep into our everyday conversations

While these terms have become commonplace and familiar, one should point out that frequency of use begins to deprive them of the precise sense in which they were used by healthcare professionals.

One often hears people tell each other not to "repress yourself," when in psychology, repression is not a decision but an unconscious reaction. That is, it happens and we're not aware of it. While such terms may become casual in our language, we may not use them the right way.

Pervasive use of psychology terms hows just how much the discipline has taken root in our society.

Depression is often used as a synonym of sadness, when being depressed is not the same as being sad. Depression requires treatment and must be diagnosed by a healthcare professional. In other words, it's good to have a chat and coffee with a friend, but that does not constitute therapy.

Furthermore, commonplace usage of psychology terms can help perpetuate negative views, especially when you hear people making declarations like "he's totally schizophrenic," or "bipolar" or plain "crazy."

Overall, however, pervasive use of psychology terms is rather a good thing and shows just how much the discipline has taken root in our society. Hopefully, popularization will be a means of bringing people closer to professionals who have the tools needed to handle our mental health.

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Influencer Union? The Next Labor Rights Battle May Be For Social Media Creators

With the end of the Hollywood writers and actors strikes, the creator economy is the next frontier for organized labor.

​photograph of a smartphone on a selfie stick

Smartphone on a selfie stick

Steve Gale/Unsplash
David Craig and Stuart Cunningham

Hollywood writers and actors recently proved that they could go toe-to-toe with powerful media conglomerates. After going on strike in the summer of 2023, they secured better pay, more transparency from streaming services and safeguards from having their work exploited or replaced by artificial intelligence.

But the future of entertainment extends well beyond Hollywood. Social media creators – otherwise known as influencers, YouTubers, TikTokers, vloggers and live streamers – entertain and inform a vast portion of the planet.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

For the past decade, we’ve mapped the contours and dimensions of the global social media entertainment industry. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, these creators struggle to be seen as entertainers worthy of basic labor protections.

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