Words We Use to Deceive Ourselves

I was wasting time on the Internet and found “For an Exercise ‘Snack,’ Try the New Standing 7-Minute Workout” from the New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/04/well/move/for-an-exercise-snack-try-the-new-standing-7-minute-workout.html

An exercise snack! How delicious! How adorable!

I could set my kitchen timer and, when it rang, get up and whiz around the house for a couple of minutes doing stretchy aerobic things. It would be fun and easy. Just like it’s easy to slip potato chips into the cracks in my day, it would be easy to slip movement in between paragraphs as I diligently write something that exercises only my brain and my fingers.

People dearly love to change the meaning of words to make something unpleasant seem more acceptable. Like “snack” for “short workout.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines euphemism as “the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/euphemism

It “derives from the Greek word euphēmos, which means “auspicious” or “sounding good.” The first part of “euphēmos” is the Greek prefix eu-, meaning “well.” The second part is “phēmē,” a Greek word for “speech” that is itself a derivative of the verb phanai, meaning “to speak.” Wellspeak. Goodspeak. 

Basically, it is a word or phrase that makes something unacceptable seem nicer. Take a look at these examples:
ethnic cleansing (genocide)
collateral damage (killing of civilians in war)
developmentally disabled (used to be retarded)
put to sleep, euthanize a pet (kill)
sleep with (have sex)
exercise snack (short workout)

Of course, most people know what you are talking about. You may come across as polite or prissy, but you probably aren’t fooling anybody.

The substitution of * for vowels in words that you guess might be triggering is supposed to make the word harmless. Your brain is not fooled; it just adds back the hidden vowels. That old brain of yours is pretty smart!

Of course, sometimes your brain does get confused. Many professions use so many specialized words that whatever they are trying to convey can’t be understood by an outsider. Here is part of an abstract of an article from Ayurveda (Integr Med. Oct-Dec 2018;9(4):285-289.) Can you tell it is about the alternate treatment of heart failure?

“This efficacy study was conducted in CHF patients (aged: 25–65 years, ejection fraction (EF) 10–30%) wherein HFRT (60–75 min) consisting of snehana (external oleation), swedana (passive heat therapy), hrudaydhara (concoction dripping treatment) and basti (enema) was administered twice daily for 7 days. During this therapy and next 30 days, patients followed the study dinarcharya and were prescribed ARJ kadha in addition to their conventional treatment. The primary endpoint of this study was evaluation of maximum aerobic capacity uptake (MAC) as assessed by 6 min walk distance (6MWD) using Cahalins equation from baseline, at the end of 7 day treatment, follow-up after 30 days and 90 days. EF was assessed by 2D Echo at baseline and after 30 days of follow-up.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30287144/ 

Lawyers, doctors, accountants, and government officials all use jargon like this. Musicians, druggies, and people living in certain neighborhoods also have their own jargon, but they call it slang. It’s a way to define the in-group and exclude others. 

Like any dialect, it takes on a life of its own, changing and becoming more elaborate with time. We have a hard time understanding Shakespeare’s use of standard sixteenth-century English, let alone the slang of that time. Some day English speakers will be baffled when they read what we have written. 

And then there is language that nudges you into saying or believing a particular thing.

What did you see? (open-ended question)
Did you see a dog? (leading question)
Did the dog bite anybody? (a more detailed leading question)

Propaganda and advertising also use language designed to make you think a certain way. So do cults. It’s a cheap, easy way to control their victims.

Looking back to when you were being abused in the cult, you may remember language used in a way that is not generally used in the larger society. Perhaps there was an in-group dialect or slang. Perhaps you can spot euphemisms – “offering” and “sacrifice” come to mind for me. And certainly, rape was never called rape. Any time a word in present-day context sounds weird, it was probably used to confuse or control you.  

Some psychological defenses also contort language. Take minimization: “Oh, it wasn’t so bad.” (Oh yes, it was. It was terrible.) It’s called a defense because it’s used regularly, not just now and then. You can’t face the facts, so you sugar-coat them.

I know all these tricks, and I choose to do them as seldom as possible. When I do them without thinking and catch myself, I make a note not to use those words again. Since we all are raised to use euphemisms, and since cult kids have a harder time with language because words were used against them, this is a never-ending project.

At times, however, distorting language is innocent, even helpful. Excuse me while I get a snack – an exercise snack, not potato chips or chocolate!  


Upcoming Holidays

4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/26 Full Moon
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

5/1 Beltane
5/9 Mothers’ Day
5/12 (?) Armed Forces Day
5/23 Pentecost
5/26 Total Lunar Eclipse 
5/26 Full Moon
5/31 Memorial Day

 6/10 Annular Solar Eclipse
 6/20 Fathers’ Day
 6/21 Summer solstice
 6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
 6/24 (?) St John’s Day
 6/24 Full Moon

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
5/8 V-E Day (Victory in Europe, WW2) 
5/17 Shavuot (Festival of Harvest, Festival of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices, and the equinoxes.)


* You can find more information on the following holidays at:
Walpurgisnacht/May Eve: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/
Beltane: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
Fathers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/
Summer Solstice: (corrected text) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
Lammas: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/ 
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Fall Equinox: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/ Halloween: (personal) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/ 
Halloween: (background) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
Thanksgiving: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/
Yule/Winter Solstice: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/ 
Candlemas: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Spring Equinox: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/

Easter: personal (for background, see Spring Equinox) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/easter-blues/




Talking to Yourself – Totally Normal

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”

* An Infinite Mind’s 10th Annual “Healing Together” International Conference.
February 7 – 9, 2020; Orlando, FL
Submit proposals for presentations before August 15. (Proposals on Ritual Abuse are welcome!)
Submission guidelines, vendor information, and hotel information at https://www.aninfinitemind.com/healing-together.html


I read an interview of  Alexander Kirkham, a psychologist studying cognition. Of course, I can’t find the article, but this one by his senior co-author, Paloma Mari-Beffa, covers all the main points: https://www.thecut.com/2017/05/the-perks-of-talking-to-yourself.html.

It’s about how people think by talking to themselves. Apparently everybody, multiples and singletons alike, have a constant conversation with themselves running through their mind. Sometimes it stays in their mind, sometimes they talk out loud to themselves.

Sometimes it’s a monologue. “If I make eggplant parmigiana, I’ll have to allow a good hour. But that would make dinner real late. I better think of a simpler eggplant dish. Those babies are going to rot if I don’t use them soon.”

Sometimes it’s a dialogue. “Should I get a latte?” “Sure, why not.” “No, lattes are expensive.” “But I deserve a treat.” “You have a treat almost every day.” “I deserve treats.” “it’s not a treat, it’s a bad habit.”

Now, I talk out loud to myself all the time. It’s more effective than just thinking: I pay more attention.

I’m writing this as I wait for my car to get serviced. I have promised myself that it will be the last time I drive, my swan song. On the way down, I talked to my Driving Fairy. “Please help me drive carefully. I’m going to drive carefully, cautiously, courteously. I’m going to watch for every car, every pedestrian, and bicycles and scooters and skateboarders.” My Driving Fairy is good to me and I got here in one piece.

Even though I am dissociative, it seems that my thinking isn’t much different from everybody else’s.

I’m not sure if everybody talks to fairies and furniture, but I have heard them talk to keys and computers and I don’t see the difference.

Kirkwood notes that when people talk out loud to themselves it slows down their thinking, which automatically makes them more attentive. Talking silently saves time because no muscles have to be moved, and because people tend to use sentence fragments when they think. I discovered by myself that telling the Driving Fairy that a traffic light is about to turn red focuses my attention and prevents me from having to slam on the brakes at the last minute. It also prevents highway hypnosis.

I often wonder what about me is “normal” and what is due to the aftereffects of the abuse I suffered as a young child. I keep coming across articles that suggest that certain ways of thinking or experiencing the world are not unique to dissociatives. I’ve come to think of us as being on a spectrum.

  1. Everybody talks to themselves all the time. No difference between us and others.
  2. Everybody has parts. No difference between us and others. BUT….dissociative people have amnesiac barriers between some of the their parts. Other people don’t.
  3. Some people who are not dissociative (or psychotic) occasionally experiences voices as coming from outside their mind. Dissociatives often experience voices coming from outside. Plus dissociative often see parts vividly with the internal eye. Other people don’t.

It seems to me that the difference between us and others lies in the characteristics of our parts. Some parts don’t know of each others’ existence. Some have specific, limited jobs – to perform certain acts on demand, to hold a memory or emotion, etc. The central issues, therefore, are amnesia and differentiation.  And that is the subject of three or four whole books!


Upcoming Holidays

Note: Additional information on the following holidays is available at
Lammas – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/  
August Ritual Dates – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/
Fall Equinox – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/ 
Halloween – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/ 
Halloween (more personal) – https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/

8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh

8/15 Full moon
9/2 Labor Day (US)

9/5 – 9/7 Feast of the Beast/Marriage of the Beast

9/13 Full moon

9/23 Fall equinox
10/13 Full moon
9/13 Friday the Thirteenth
10/14 (?) Columbus Day
10/31 Halloween/start of Celtic New Year/start of the dark half of the year

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
9/1 Start of WW2
9/29 – 10/1 Rosh Hashanah (New Year, Day of Judgement)
10/16 Death of Rosenburg
10/19 Death of Goering
10/20 Hitler´s actual half-birthday
10/21 Hitler’s alternative half-birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday and half-birthday on 4/20 and 10/20. His alternate birthday is celebrated on Easter of the current year and his alternate half-birthday six months later.)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)


I spoke too soon. What I said last week is still true; I am not freaking out over holidays, birthdays, or photographs. But I am very confused and don’t know why.

I walk into a room and have no idea why I did that. I don’t know what task I planned to do next. I don’t know what to do with emails, so I just let therm pile up, which is not a good way to treat people. I forget words, words for simple things as well as complicated things.

And I lose things. Oh, do I lose things! One morning I lost my purse and spent three hours looking for it, only to find it where is belonged. I didn’t get much done that day except to notice all the things that I meant to do and didn’t. Yet.

I don’t feel crazy – I fear I’m getting demented, although I don’t feel demented. And I am pretty sure that aphasia and short-term memory loss do not occur overnight without having had a stroke. I would know if I had had a stroke, wouldn’t I?

Back in the bad old days, when I first remembered the ritual abuse, this happened to me all the time. I would walk into a room and freeze, not knowing why I was there, looking around stupidly. It was a crippling form of agoraphobia.

I figured out that it was a flashback; I was afraid to leave a room where I was safe, where I was not being hurt, and go into a different room where God knows what was awaiting me. So each time I went into a different room, I froze in fear and it took a while to feel safe there. And of course by the time I came back into the present, I had no idea why I was there and had to guess what I had wanted.

I don’t remember having to reach for words back then. It’s happened sporadically over the last few years, and when I told my therapist she said it was a side effect of the antidepressant I am on. I’m pretty sure it’s reversible, but, even if it isn’t, it’s better than being suicidal. I’m afraid to go off of my antidepressant, because with older people you run the risk of it not working if you need to go back on.

The most likely explanation is some sort of flashback. That would mean that I am fighting remembering something that is worse than what I have already remembered. That seems unlikely, though I have learned to accept that nothing is impossible.

I did a quick mental literature review and this was the only thing that came to mind: David W. Neswald, Catherine Gould, and Vicki Graham-Costain: “Common Programs Observed in Survivors of Satanic Ritualistic Abuse.” You can find it at  http://ra-info.org/for-researchers/bibliographies/programming-articles/common-programs-observed-in-survivors-of-satanic-ritualistic-abuse/

In it, they describe “Scrambling Programs.”

“These are programs intended to confuse, disorganize and/or block the patient’s alter system, emerging memories, thought processes, and/or incoming information. Often, there are specific alters designated by the cult programmer to perform this function (e.g., “The Scrambler”). Reduced ability to “switch,” speak, write, draw, read, and/or remember previous sessions/work are potential tip-offs to the enactment of a scrambling program.”

I don’t have that kind of system, and it’s not quite what I am experiencing, but it sorta fits. Certainly if my distraction and absent-mindedness is meant to keep some memory from surfacing, it is doing a very good job. It’s also doing a great job of making me miss dentist appointments, forget to do the dishes, and stare at something I am looking for and simply not see it.

Perhaps it’s designed to make me worried about becoming demented and so strengthen my identification with my mother. She had many TIA’s (transient ischemic attacks, when a blood vessel closes temporarily and deprives the brain of oxygen) and became totally aphasic over a period of fifteen years. Passive, too; all she could do was watch television and read the paper. I think she could understand more words than she could say. I dread becoming more passive than I already am and greeting the world each day with deep inertia. I have far too many things I want to do.

(Like: I have 175 quotes for the journal/diary I am working on. That’s almost half! Anybody got something relevant to healing? Doesn’t have to be about RA. And anybody know how to make a PDF that you can type on? Or can somebody make little line drawing of flowers and leaves and plants?)

Until I figure this out or it goes away on its own, I have a choice. I can bitch about it and blame myself and feel guilty, or I can live with it and go about my day. I can accept that it will take me longer to do the things I want to. I can be happy that walking aimlessly from room to room is a good form of exercise. Right now I have a warm cat on my lap whose purr soothes me as I reach for a word that has retreated into the depths of my mind, taking all synonyms with it. Post it notes and a kitchen timer will help me get to where I am going on time, on the right day. It could be worse, much worse.