The Power of Language

Words matter. They dictate the governing structure of our society, help us navigate the relationships in our lives, and even provide critical medical treatments.

And those treatments go beyond just behavioral talk therapy. Here's neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi writing in his beautifully titled memoir When Breath Becomes Air:

One of my patients, upon being diagnosed with brain cancer, fell suddenly into a coma. I ordered a battery of labs, scans, and EEGS, searching for a cause, without result. The definitive test was the simplest: I raised the patient's arm above his face and let go. A patient in a psychogenic coma retains just enough volition to avoid hitting himself. The treatment consists of speaking reassuringly, until your words connect and the patient awakens.

If that's not magic, I don't know what is.

Imagine witnessing the above interaction as someone who didn't understand English. You would think Kalanithi was a wizard uttering a spell.

Never underestimate the power of words.


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