Hypocognition: Missing The Words


A lot of life is about understanding and representing the real world. Words play a critical role in helping us to both internalise and socialise the ideas in our heads. We describe discrete objects with nouns, interactions with verbs, relationships with adjectives and so on.

In this sense, we stack a series of apt words to form phrases that represent ideas. Inclinations, meaning and belief systems emerge from our awareness and familiarity with these phrases. So what happens when we cannot describe an experience?

Hypocognition is the experience of not having the precise language to capture an experience. Take for example:

The term was introduced to behavioural science by the American anthropologist Robert Levy, who in 1973 documented a peculiar observation: Tahitians expressed no grief when they suffered the loss of a loved one. They fell sick. They sensed strangeness. Yet, they could not articulate grief, because they had no concept of grief in the first place. Tahitians, in their reckoning of love and loss, and their wrestling with death and darkness, suffered not from grief but a hypocognition of grief.

Some modern examples of words that you may be hypocognitive of:

Shoeburyness: the vague uncomfortable feeling of sitting on a seat that is still radiating warmth from someone else’s bottom,.

Benevolent Sexism: a chivalrous attitude that appears favourable towards women, but actually reinforces traditional gender roles and perpetuates gender stereotypes.

Lifted from:

[https://aeon.co/ideas/hypocognition-is-a-censorship-tool-that-mutes-what-we-can-feel](https://aeon.co/ideas/hypocognition-is-a-censorship-tool-that-mutes-what-we-can-feel “Aeon Hypocognition Is A Censorship Tool That Mutes What We Can Feel”)