Wacky Word Wednesday

Cacoethes – Wacky Word Wednesday

Sometimes it strikes even the best of us: the sudden desire to do something we know is bad for us. It might be the seemingly irresistible urge to call up an ex-partner in the middle of the night or the impulsive and strange thought that it would be fun to break some expensive antiques. We might not feel this very often but at some point most will experience cacoethes.

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[kak-oh-ee-theez]

-noun

A sudden and uncontrollable urge, especially for something harmful.

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You may find yourself getting some weird ideas from time to time – inexplicably aggressive thoughts or bizarre, disturbing desires that you know would be harmful – and you’d understandably feel a bit frightened and probably a little alone. A study featured in the July 2014 Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, however, shows that people who experience this cacoethes are far from rare – in fact, they’re the majority. The research found that 94% of people experience cacoethetic thoughts on a daily basis but most simply aren’t too bothered by them. Those who suffer from certain psychiatric disorders, though, may not be able to dismiss these ideas as easily as the rest of us or may end up dwelling upon them, thus giving the ideas greater psychological power. “This study shows that it’s not the unwanted, intrusive thoughts that are the problem — it’s what you make of those thoughts…,” said Adam Radomsky, one of the authors of the study.

Some researchers, on the other hand, actually think cacoethes is a positive thing. In a 1999 paper, Drs. Riadh Abed and Karel de Pauw hypothesized that cacoethes might function to encourage the avoidance of certain kinds of behavior by giving us the feeling that we’re a little unbalanced and thus have to watch ourselves when we’re in an emotional state; every cloud has its silver lining.

As always, we at Simply CSOFT would like to leave you with a few example sentences:

  • “Among the rest, she was seized with what we men call a cacoethes of the needle: ’a raging desire’ for work.” – White Lies, Charles Reade
  • “Tanny gave in to the sudden attack of cacoethes, reached across the table, and slapped the man as hard as she could.”

We hope you manage to avoid giving into any cacoethes this week, and that any such feelings can serve as teaching moments. Join us next week for another exciting episode of Wacky Word Wednesday!

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