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Yale Psychiatrist Claims Verbal Aggression is As Damaging as Physical Aggression

Have you experienced a lot violence in your life? Hopefully not, but now consider the mean words directed at you. 

According to an Yale psychologist, verbal and physical aggression are the same.

MedPage Today published an article this month written by the Dr. Amanda Calhoun, who compares the harm of both.

If you say that you are sensitive to the consequences of physical violence, you should also be alert to the effects that could be triggered by verbal actions. Sometimes, jokes that aren't enjoyable for those who are the victims of them and could be just as damaging as physical violence.

Of course, a savage berating of children could be more damaging than a simple thump in the middle of the finger. However, I'd guess that's not what the doctor is referring to. Perhaps she believes that violence and language to the same magnitude are destructive.

The piece by the mental health expert was inspired by the latest “slap heard around the world” — and it's called “Should Will Smith's Slap Be Condemned More Harshly Than Chris Rock's Words?”

Comedian Chris Rock, as you may have heard, made a light joke at the Oscars that was a reference to actor Jada Pinkett Smith's hair that was in a very short style. Her husband, Will Smith,  was on stage in an instant and slapped the host's face, and followed that with a scream of vulgarity that was broadcast throughout the world.

Was Will's behavior more sinister than Chris's joke? According Calhoun, it's not clear:

Instead of deciding between Smith or Rock I believe that the circumstances are more complex. This raises a larger question: should a physical attack always be judged harsher than a verbal attack regardless of circumstances? I don't believe so.

The psychiatrist stresses that words could be “a form of abuse, and can lead to depressive symptoms and even suicide.”

It's true, but it's not a good comparison for the interaction between Chris and Will at the Academy Awards.

However, we live in a world that has removed the old adage about sticks and stones breaking bones. Nowadays, according to the advice we're getting increasingly, the mere sound of a mouth can result in violence.

Whatever the motivation behind such a notion, the idea appears to serve as a definite path towards limiting speech.

See:

“Student Papers Will Encourage Diversity by Preventing it from Happening as Free Speech is Substituted for Safety”

“Booksellers Association CEO Apologizes for the “violence” that resulted from Accidentally Propagating the sale of a Conservative Book”

“University Schools Students on the Importance of free Speech — and Reporting the People Who Use It”

At the very least, they're not speciesists:

“Legal Journal Publishes Plea for Hate Speech Laws Protecting Animals”

“Woke in the wWater: Shark Advocates Call for an End to “Attacks,” in Favor of Interactions”

However, it appears to me that much of America has lost sight of the stakes. In the past, I've pondered that:

We're too focused on our own problems that the larger picture is elusive to us.

We're so weak that our notions of difficulty have changed to be the same.

The concept of war in the country has completely changed.

The problem hasn't been brought from the bottom upwards and we've been degraded by our leaders.

The idea is that disagreements are “hate” and words are “violence.”

We're told that we should be inspired by the world around us and must not just be observed but also “feel” so.

All who do not wish to affirm our beliefs must be made to do so by the rules of law.

Every incident that is not in line with our opinions, we're sure that it causes us “harm.”

In this instance it is said that we've been stripped of dignity. We've been made to feel resentful. We've been erased.

We are erased. Our simple existence is only possible by the entire world saying we're right.

Thus, disagreement is not just hatred, but also death.

What makes us any weaker?

What, indeed.

Are words a form of violence? Not really, since violence is defined by law; and when used to the extent, the victim has no chance of coming back to health. In the world of words, there is always a chance to heal. The injured person is able to be strengthened.

I hope that it will be the same for America.

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