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Strangers on the Internet

The Dating Professors: Therapy Speak as Relationship Abuse

Season 2, Ep. 36

The Internet is abuzz with discussion about allegations by Sarah Brady, a University of Hawai'i law student, that her ex-boyfriend and celebrity Jonah Hill emotionally abused her and dressed up the abuse in therapy language. According to screenshots of text messages she posted publicly, he designated it "boundaries" that she should not post swimsuit pictures of herself on social media, model, surf with men, or interact with female friends of whom he didn't approve, among other things. Irina and Michelle analyze the difference between boundaries and coercive control, the ways in which boundary speak doesn't absolve the speaker of problematic values injected into requests (or demands), and the general current trends in distorting psychological language to serve one's purposes. The Dating Professors also delve into what happens when a partner's mental health or other life circumstances make it difficult for them to give what the other person might actually deserve under optimal conditions. Tune in and join the discourse!


Original Bustle piece about whether therapy-speak is making us selfish


Transcript of text messages between Sarah Brady and Jonah Hill


Guardian piece on the history of boundary language


Psychology Today article about coercive control

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