What Do Words Mean?By Patricia Lefave, Psychiatric Survivour
Do you think that is an odd question? Most people would say they know what words mean but few would stop to ask themselves why they believe they do. In fact, most people would not even think of the question in the first place. We 'assume' we know these things and that the things we 'all' know are the same
things that everyone else knows.
Real communication and understanding requires effort, it requires context, a premise upon which to base it, and a dependency on the motivations and intentions of the speaker, as well as the willingness of the receiver to listen psychologically and not with just his/her 'ears,' to what is actually being said. Hidden agendas destroy the possibility of any real communication. Some of us live while surrounded by people with hidden agendas. Others perceive the person who does not understand the group
behaviour, or the psychiatrized person as odd, defective or inherently and fundamentally 'different' from 'normal' people. "Normal' is most often defined by group consensus or as whatever is the most common way of thinking and behaving.
I perceive all of us as fundamentally the same on a human level, although it often happens that some of us are being regularly defined by 'others' as inherently different, defective or odd. This is frequently a direct result of the reductionist labelling system. This labelling suggests to others that we should
be seen this way and most 'others' follow authority, no questions asked.
The destructive results of this labelling to the lives of those to whom this standard is applied or to whom it is even suggested they should
be labelled, can be the same for anyone.
I believe that in relation to the same sort of circumstances the same sort of reaction
, which occurs in the targeted 'sick one' could and likely would, occur in anyone; ANYONE
. It is just that it is defined in a certain way for some but not for others. It is a REACTION
and not a cause from within, neatly and safely contained within a 'defective' human being.
"Confusion' for example gets pathologized for some, but not for others. All kinds of people were 'confused' by what was done to me for example, and by what was going on between me and another person, but, it was only defined as a 'symptom' in me and not in the others
involved, even though they too were 'confused.'They remained 'in denial' regarding themselves. They remain in the same state today despite all the evidence of this truth.
I think that is what psychiatric labels do best; they create and reinforce a 'them and us' mentality which is based on a grand illusion.
That said then, let us look at the meaning of words.
All communication and meaning has what could be said to be a light side and a dark side.In psychiatry, this 'dark side' has is referred to as the "shadow." The difference in meaning is in other elements brought into the communications like motivation, understanding intent and goals.
Currently, for example, it is fashionable to deny the existence of evil and to attempt to homogenize good and evil so that people will be convinced to give up discernment. Statements are now being made to reinforce this; "Really there is no good or evil." Since evil people and evil doers love confusion, and covert operations, I am sure they also love this idea, that 'really' there is no evil. Such an idea feeds their need for power and delusions of grandeur. Attempts to gain power and control over
others are better satisfied for the controllers by the blindness
of those others. It is all about this power and control.
All of life has this characteristic of light side/dark side. The same words have opposite meaning depending upon a number of factors but mostly it is about WHO
is using them and what their intentions actually are when the words are being used. I think one of the best things I can do for making this clearer is to use an example and just SHOW
you what makes the difference.
Let us take the 'Musketeers" expression, "all for one and one for all
What does that mean? Well you may think it means that it is about the Musketeers sticking together and being protective to the individual as well as the individual being protective of the group. You might be right too. Can you think of anything else it might mean if you took the expression out of the mouths of the Musketeers and out of that particular context? So let us look again at the expression, "all for one and one for all" and ask a few questions about it in various contexts:
What if a cult leader made a statement like this to a group?
What if Adolph Hitler said it to his inner circle in a closed meeting?
What if Moses said it to his followers?
What would it mean if a group of psychiatrists, rallying together said, "All for one and one for all" at the World Psychiatric Association, members only, meetings?
What if Martians said it just as they entered earth's atmosphere? What would they mean by that? Would they be stating their intention to see earthlings as equals OR
would they be issuing a rallying war cry and talking about only
Let's focus on just
the expression now without any particular context. Who are 'all'?
Who is, or are
Is the first 'all' and
the second 'all' referring to the same group?
Is it referring to
a 'group' or is it referring to goods
Is the first use of the word 'one,' and the second use of the word 'one,' meant to mean the SAME
'one,' or are they two different
If there is no
context at all, how do you know the difference, or even if there IS
What if both references to 'one' meant "one dollar"? Perhaps the Musketeers were only stating their intention to pay one dollar and one dollar only
for their meal at the inn. A nosy bystander overheard that and projected into
it a meaning it never had, then she ran all over the village, repeating it to everyone and acting as the unwanted 'interpreter' for the Musketeers.
Human beings need context
to understand communications. When we deal with people who keep changing meaning, holding back information or 'covertly' adding
information of which we are unaware, real communication becomes impossible.
Imagine if people who behaved in this way all the time, and who refused to clarify anything as they were afraid it might result in problems for THEM
, surrounded you.It is more likely that it will be the individual target who has all this multiple choice information, missing information, fabricated information, to cope with, along with non stop contradiction, who will break down under pressure.The isolation and the inability to sort out all the contradictory information almost ensure that outcome.
It is necessary for concrete experience and abstract meaning to connect in a way that makes sense to the one having
the life experience. To make assumptions about WHY
an individual is 'having trouble making sense of things,' is very often only making a real
life problem, with real
people in real
situationsmuch, much worse than it ever has to be.