Psychoetymology [Psycho-etymology]

The branch of psycholinguistics having to do with a psychological approach to the evolution of words. The basic idea behind psychoetymology is that the examination of the deep etymological roots of a word can reveal unconscious psychological truths both about its meaning and its connection with other words, often seemingly unrelated, or even antithetical. Diamond has frequently incorporated a psychoetymological approach in his writings since the 1960s, and the consistency with which he has done so is probably unique for anyone in the field of medicine or healing.

Although employing it in a variety of contexts (see sample of papers from his writings listed below), one of Diamond’s most striking uses of the approach is in the book Life Energy. Employing psychoetymology in tandem with other approaches (such as showing the historical usage of the words in question), he was able to define the emotions associated with each meridian in an authoritative way, clearly distinguishing them from one another, seemingly for the first time.

Commentary: While the term is Diamond’s own, dating from the mid-1960s, the field itself was pioneered earlier by Freud in a number of seminal works including “The Antithetical Meaning of Primal Words” (1910) and Introductory Lectures in Psychoanalysis (1916), and was developed by other psychoanalytic writers, notably Ernest Jones (On the Nightmare [1931]; “The Madonna’s Conception through the Ear” [1951]). As well as these writings, Diamond was particularly influenced by the Australian philologist Sidney J. Baker, who had published extensively in the field between 1945-55, and with whom he personally closely associated in the late 1960s (in “An Introduction to Psychoetymology,” Diamond’s first writing on the subject, he acknowledges his debt to Baker).

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