Verbal aggression

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A note for Lesson no. 5, "Your Brain Secretly Works With Other Brains," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 91 is:

Over time, anything that contributes to chronic stress can gradually eat away at your brain and cause illness in your body. This includes physical abuse, verbal aggression...

The appendix adds:

Verbal aggression, at least the milder kind, depends on context. Not all profanity is verbal aggression.

For references on the brain impacts of sustained verbal aggression, see a long period of chronic stress can harm a human brain.

The importance of context

Identical words, when spoken in a different context, can become verbal aggression. For example, in some parts of the southern United States, certain polite-sounding words, when spoken in a particular context, can become insults:

  • “Well aren’t you special.”
  • “He means well, God love him.”
  • “Oh, is that what they’re wearing now?”