What’s In A Name?

I’ve been thinking about something Mr. Adorable said during last week’s physiotherapy session. I used the German word «kaputt» when referring to my injured leg. «Kaputt» translates to broken or damaged. Not like «my leg is broken», more as in «my toaster is broken». It is a colloquial term, not a medical one.

Mr. Adorable was quite dissatisfied with «kaputt». «Kaputt», he informed me, is not acceptable language. I should instead refer to my leg as «affected» or «improving». I was somewhat taken aback by this, even though this kind of thing is not new to me. The SO used to work in customer service and the customer never, ever had a problem. The customer had an issue that they needed help with.

Now, I’m not by any means the kind of person that reads self-help books about positive thinking (or any other self-help books, for that matter). But maybe he has a point there. We’ve talked about psychosomatic influence, placebo and nocebo effects and there are studies out there that demonstrate that. Which word you use might not have a huge immediate impact on your well-being, but the connotations could add up and influence your perception of your… issue either way. A kid I was tutoring in German once asked me why there are so many words in it that mean the same thing and I explained that outside of the dictionary, they very often don’t mean quite the same thing. So maybe it’s time to expand my vocabulary, or at least use the one I already have, and try and be mindful of negative connotations when talking about injuries and other issues. Words have power.

To prove the point that words have power, Mr. Adorable later referred to dancing as «basically an extreme sport», which instantly made me feel rather proud of myself. I have a sneaking suspicion he says stuff like this on purpose just to motivate me to work harder. This is exactly the kind of flattery I’m susceptible to and I believe a good therapist is more than just physically manipulative with his patients.

3 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. Mr. Adorable really sounds so very lovely! And, just as a bit of reinforcement for feeling proud of yourself, Denis (also a physio) definitely regards dance, especially ballet, as an extreme sport! (Which is why he hates working on dancers :D)

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  2. He is, in the slightly sadistic way of a good physio. Also, yay! I’m Mr. Adorable’s first dancer (or something vaguely resembling a dancer, at any rate) and he says it’s been an interesting challenge.

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  3. Oh, and another funny story: since my mom got into dancing and got to know its many benefits, she’s been trying to get her (older) hubby to pick up a regular physical activity but he wasn’t having any of it. Recently, he went to the doctor for some back pain and jokingly complained that his wife keeps going on about how good dancing is for you. The doc pursed his lips and said, “Well, dancing *is* pretty much the best thing you can do for your posture.” Mom was quite smug when he told her (which, to his credit, he did).

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