Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Therapy is a verb

The reality of addiction is that you find yourself compromising in your demands for quality as you pursue a simple fix. As long as you get the hit you don't care if it's a good hit. That probably helps to explain the success of Night Train and Thunderbird. It explains why a great-uncle (that I never met) turned to rubbing alcohol.

My name is Michael. I watch Dr. Phil.

About a week ago (15 April 2008) McGraw teamed up with occasional advice collaborator T.D. Jakes to share opinions with a mother and daughter who wanted the world to know their issues. (episode page)

After asking several questions and redirecting a few arguments and clarifying some claims Dr Phil announced that he and Jakes were going to use a new strategy in their speech. His promise going into the commercial break:

The bishop and I are gonna try and put some verbs in our sentences when we come back.

I guess I hadn't been paying attention because it seems that McGraw and Jakes had been performing an impressive feat: they hadn't used any verbs in their sentences thus far.

This is similar to one of those linguification-esque rhetorical devices/snowclones that I don't quite understand: X is a verb. I don't know if this one qualifies as linguification because it isn't really a claim about the way people are thinking stated as an observation about their use of language. It's really just an odd distinction between advice and other statements.

So here's the meta-linguistic claim: speech that is intent on effecting a change in action and making necessary action clear is going to use verbs while speech that reports information or asks for information doesn't need them.

What I find most amusing is that McGraw isn't really sure he can use verbs. He only promises to try.

Now for some overkill. Evidence of what you already know. I've taken all the verbs out of some early quotes by Phil and T.D. just to make the point that should be clear: verbs are necessary in almost all sentences no matter what point is being made. No matter the mood or illocutionary point. [sentence fragments are a different matter.]

“Why [] she [], in your estimation?”

“[] she [] when she [] you [] her nonstop? That [] her quote.

“On that one isolated incident, [] you [] it and [] her unreasonably?”

“This [] on behind a lot of closed doors and [] a really bad message."

“Absolutely. I [] the really pervasive problem with your daughter [] that she really [] [] that you all [] [] a whole and wholesome relationship. It’[] difficult to [] her to [] that it [] possible to [] with you and [] happy.”

“[] that possible? If she [] home today, [] you [] right back where you []?”

“She [] otherwise.”

1 comment:

  1. Sadly for McGraw and Jakes, I think your overkill illustrated how vapid their therapy is. I'm not sure verbs would have added too terribly much to the discussion.



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