Absolutist Speech


“I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

Nobody.  Not a single person. Not one expert in the field.

I call language, where speakers and writers use words reflecting “no question about it” thinking “absolutist language”. We often hear; “Nobody talks about that!” (except, of course, the speaker); “People always do (such and such)”; “You never hear…”…. Often political speech is delivered as if all living persons think or believe the same thing or way. “I think Americans believe…”…etc. Absolutist language is a byproduct of chronic anxiety. It is interested in making “reality” not only easy to manage, but also align it with only the speaker’s view of the world. Once, in a new startup company, an employing resisting a suggestion said to me, “But, we’ve never done it that way before!” Aside from the hubris this way of seeing the world reveals, there appear at least two processing impairments. One is how we appear to normalize absolutist language by accepting rather than challenging it. The other is the absence of courage required to understand its genesis. We afraid to begin an even modest task of discernment. This is the reinforcing archetype of anxiety. We are afraid to understand and address the origins of our fears so we might become more rational beings.

Peace and Courage,


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