20 March 2018

Freudian slips

"Freudian slip" is the phrase used to describe a usually embarrassing slip of the tongue. They are beyond simply using the wrong word in that we interpret them to be revealing of our innermost thoughts or unconscious feelings.

If someone said that they were interested in "watching that new show on TV" but actually said that they were interested in "watching that new snow on TV," I don't think anyone would read any psychological meaning into it.

But in 1988, when then Vice-President, George H.W Bush gave a speech on live television and said “We’ve had triumphs. Made some mistakes. We’ve had some sex… uh… setbacks” the audience did think there was something else going on.

The Freudian slip is named after the father of psychoanalysis and lover of symbols, Sigmund Freud. In his 1901 book The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, he described and analyzed many  seemingly trivial, bizarre, or nonsensical errors and slips patients had made. Freud believed that it was our unconscious mind that unlocked our behaviors and, like dreams, slips of the tongue revealed those hidden thoughts.

Freud referred to these slips as Fehlleistungen meaning "faulty actions", "faulty functions" or "misperformances" in German. The Greek term parapraxes from Greek παρά (para), meaning 'another' πρᾶξις (praxis), meaning 'action') was a term created by Freud's English translator, as is the form "symptomatic action."

A lot of what Freud believed has fallen out of favor in psychology, and there are people who now believe that many cases of Freudian slips are really more indicators of the way language is formed in the brain rather than unconscious thoughts slipping out.

The Austrian linguist Rudolf Meringer, a contemporary of Freud, also collected verbal mistakes, and concluded that most slips of the tongue were from mixing up the letters, not the actual words.

When Senator Ted Kennedy gave a speech about education and said  “Our national interest ought to be to encourage the breast - the best - and brightest,” was that his unconscious speaking or an example of a "forward error" when the "r" sound from forward in the sentence in "brightest" changed "best" to "breast"? Judge for yourself.

07 March 2018

Litmus test

Litmus is a water-soluble mixture of different dyes extracted from lichens. The word comes from lytmos and Old Norse litmosi meaning dye-moss. The main use of litmus is to test whether a solution is acidic or basic. It is often absorbed onto filter paper to produce one of the oldest forms of pH indicator. Litmus turns red under acidic conditions and blue under alkaline conditions.

The more modern figurative use of the term "litmus test" is a situation in which you arrive at a conclusion based on a single factor, such as an attitude, event, or fact) is decisive. A headline such as "Eurozone Elections: Litmus Test for the EU" is an example of that usage.

28 February 2018


"Me & Michael" from MGMT's 2018 album Little Dark Age

MGMT is an American rock band formed in 2002. Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden formed the band while attending Wesleyan University during their freshman year.

They experimented with noise rock and electronica before settling on what has been called shape-shifting psychedelic pop.

The band formed under the name The Management, and two demo albums -We (Don't) Care and Climbing to New Lows - were unofficially released under the name, but since the name was already being used by another band, they later changed it to the abbreviated version MGMT.