Crashing Gongs and Clanging Cymbals

“Did I Really Hear What I Thought I Heard?”

I have lunch many Sundays with a group of women at a local restaurant. Today one woman told a story about a former neighbor who talked all the time about going to “KFC”, so much so that this woman began to think, “ My, goodness she eats a lot of fried chicken!” Then she discovered the neighbor was Catholic and she was talking about going to “K of C”, Knights of Columbus! Such language shortcuts can be very confusing. Social media has been hard for me, at times, because of so many alphabet soup messages.
Recently in an online post on a group the writer put….”IKYKYK…. Several folks asked, “Uh, anyone else lost on this? I had had to ponder it a minute but figured it out- “ I know you know you know”…..It can feel like a Clifsnote-style Wheel of Fortune game trying to read social media…..
There is a phenomenon in psychosis that is an aberration in an individual’s experiencing of reality known as “clanging association”. They hear a common word or phrase in passing conversations that have a benign, harmless, broadly accepted meaning in a particular context, but because of the impact of trauma arising out of their own fear or personal experience the word or phrase is twisted into another meaning in their mind that prevents them from receiving the word or phrase as generally intended. It is a a very intrusive, distracting phenomenon that has them “hearing a voice” that others don’t hear.
A message in their brain that is different from how others hear the word or phrase. Paranoia may lead them to believe they have someone trying to communicate secret messages or control or influence them. It is a “clanging gong” in their head that can only be translated through the language of love in a way they can hear….
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
Love and patience and empathic listening can be a very helpful therapeutic for the chaos of “hearing voices” and the confusion caused by speaking different “languages” especially when the words are the same but the meanings are not.