“In the ’50s or even the ’80s, it would be hard to imagine that saying ‘I see my therapist regularly’ had status,” says Eli Finkel, a psychology professor at Northwestern University and the writer of “The All – or-nothing marriage.” But now, he said, taking care of one’s mental health is a social currency in some spheres.
A growing number of people are now broadcasting intimate, specific details, including proclamations about their mental health, said Dr. Carbino. It’s a technique used both to signal your values and to exclude people, she said — if therapy is essential to you, for example, you might not want to date someone who’s never been.
It suggests that you have done ‘the work’. In other words, you are enlightened, the best version of yourself. “It’s a part of this discourse of self-optimization,” said Dr. Bandinelli.
However, there are obvious drawbacks to learning a therapy term via TikTok video or meme, namely that non-professionals can misunderstand it. In particular, the term “trauma bonded” is thrown round to point connecting with somebody about shared struggles; the scientific definition of the time period refers to a specific pattern of abuse.
This language can also be a useful excuse to write someone off. “I often find it gives people leverage,” says Edward Nyamenkum, a 29-year-old art director in Montreal. “It makes folks really feel good after they ghost somebody, like ‘They’re clearly poisonous,’ with out giving them an opportunity.”
And when people misuse these words, using a weighty term like “gaslighting” to describe more banal, everyday turmoil that comes with dating, those who actually experience abuse have less voice, said Dr. Bandinelli. This “explosion of diagnostic language,” as she called it, provides common, simple language for the often complex and specific conundrums associated with modern dating.
“There’s a way that utilizing pseudoscientific jargon one way or the other makes our argument stronger,” said Dr. Bandinelli. If someone is acting like a jerk, she said, that might just be one person’s opinion. “But for those who ‘inform me’ or ‘prefer to bomb me,’ then it is goal,” she mentioned.
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