Language as self-medication, and the memetic immune system

Dave Gross (
Tue, 5 Aug 1997 12:18:34 +0800 (GMT-8)

Date: Tue, 5 Aug 1997 12:18:34 +0800 (GMT-8)
From: Dave Gross <>
Subject: Language as self-medication, and the memetic immune system
In-Reply-To: <>

When a familiar word is heard and understood, the context in which that
word has been heard and used in the past is recreated in the brain. So
hearing the word "pickle" may bring the taste or look of a pickle to mind,
or may cause a smile in memory of a joke that used the word "pickle" in
the punch line.

By associating words with brain-states, people can "self-medicate" with
language -- using soothing, kinky, or magic words to reproduce pleasurable
states of mind.

There seems to be some sort of built-in protection which keeps (most)
people from just repeating their favorite word over and over. Most of us
have had the experience of saying a word multiple times and seeing its
meaning vanish into thin air -- leaving us with syllables that we can't
believe ever had meaning to us. This is probably evidence of this part of
our memetic immune system.

-- Dave Gross

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