Friday, January 27, 2012

What Do Words Really Mean, Anyway?

Word association.   Carl Jung used this method of testing early in his career.   The test usually consisted of a hundred stimulus words that were read out one by one to a subject who was to "answer as quickly as possible with the first word that occurs to you." The reaction time, verbal response, and test behavior were recorded and analyzed.  Jung noted that subjects' "unusual" responses were connected with something that had emotionally affected the subject during some time in their life.   Subjects do not have conscious control over their responses, Jung said.  Therefore, according to Jung, the word association test tapped conscious and unsconscious phenomena.    So, . . . .

I decided to give myself a word association test.   I debated on the first word to begin with.  I didn't want to set myself up to get an "A", so to be fair I decided to point to a word on the computer and begin with that.   Here goes . . .

punk - piercings
piercings - sword
sword - King Arthur
King Arthur - aardvaark
aardvaark - spelling
spelling - bee
bee - or not to be 
or not to be - paranormal
paranormal - Izzy

I could go on and on, but I think it would be embarrassing.    If my responses indicate some sort of emotional upheaval in my life, holy cow!   Maybe subconsciously I have always wanted to pierce my tongue??   Or maybe I was attacked by an aardvaark in my early years.   Or maybe a little paranormal bee buzzed in my ear the wrong spelling for a word during my 5th grade spelling bee??!   No wonder I'm a mess!!!

Word association tests were used to diagnose "crazy" people.   Okay, maybe that's the wrong word to use.   These tests were used in psychological examinations.   Different words, same thing.   I don't know what my responses mean.  Maybe nothing.  Maybe that I'm weird.  But if I had been given this test years ago and had the same words and responses, I might have been locked away, or pitied, or had my brain studied.

Jung gradually abandoned this method of testing.   Smart guy.


  1. haha! Loved it. Hum. This sounds like fun! Might have to try it sometime!

  2. word association like dreams .. open to interpretation but really why? Just know if you are crazy you can always sit next to me.

  3. Looks pretty normal to me. I don't understand the King Arthur Aardvark one but I'm sure there's a perfectly logical non crazy explanation for that ;)

    I started with your first word and did some too:

    dr. spock

    After that the list got weird Lol! But only because it started going into personal memories I associated with some words, which is probably the point of the whole thing.

  4. Noisy Quiet - - as soon as I thought King Arthur, I thought of the child's show, Arthur - - who was an aardvark. Wasn't he??!!

    1. Ohhhhhhhhhhh! I didn't connect that at all! I don't think I even knew he was an Aardvark! Lol! (I looked it up. He is :) ) So, see? Not crazy logic!

      You know what I just realized though? Word association.... that's what my One Word exercises are every day (Doh! ;) )

    2. I think Arthur was an aardvark. And I'm glad you explained the connection. :)

  5. a fun game to play at family supper time !

  6. I love this kind of stuff - love playing word association games. Sometimes the dude with whom I live and I get into wild places by jumping from word to word. JFF! And I agree with Daryl - word associations are like dreams - open to interpretation. The best thing is that the interpretation is all your own and always right. Dream on!

  7. I think I play word association in my head entirely too much. I love suddenly becoming conscious of the fact that I am thinking of/talking about something seemingly unrelated to anything leading up to it and then being able to trace my path back through my crazy-ass associations.