Jimmy was 31 years old and during his first week in the psychiatric hospital, he yelled the same thing at me every day: “F… you, Dr. Guterson. Get me out of this sh..hole.”
When one works in a psychiatric hospital, words like these are commonplace.
The words we use. Speech. The sages tell us that the entire world was created through Divine speech. G-d ‘spoke’, whatever that means, and then there was light and vegetation and stars and fish and animals. Words that create physical reality.
But there is more to this. If the world was created by way of Divine speech, it follows that G-d wants to dialogue with us and us with
G-d, to have a relationship. That’s what our soul is all about. That’s why prayer, as research as shown, is such a powerful part of positive mental health.
We humans crave connection, not just with G-d but with others. Through speaking our hopes, our fears, our dreams with others, we can open up beautiful gates of communication, of closeness.
Jimmy’s primary words were expletives. They shielded him, protected him. It was his way of venting his anger. I asked him if he could try different words but he insisted that this is how he talks, how everyone he knows talks. He said he would never change.
He then asked me to try saying some swear words, to see what it feels like to talk that way. I thanked him for his kind offer, but declined - and this led to him swearing at me some more.
You win a few, you lose a few.