Popular psychological terms – trends of 2021

Opening the feed of social networks, we are faced with new information every day. Something is forgotten right away, but something stays on hearing for a long time. The most frequent in our information field, of course, will be popular and mass phenomena. The course of recent years on mindfulness has made psychology the queen of science-pop. Well, of course, what could be more interesting than a detailed study of your own personality!

I always vote with both hands for greater awareness, but I want to point out one danger: popular psychology and conventional psychology do not always correlate. Since the demand for psychology is very high, experts often have to simplify concepts and phenomena in order for the average reader / listener to understand the essence.

As soon as simplified information comes out “into the world”, it is copied and interpreted dozens of times, as a result of which the essence of the phenomenon itself may be distorted. Therefore, I decided to ask my Instagram subscribers what psychological terms they encounter most often and once again explain what they really mean.

Editorial staff COLADY introduces you to popular psychological terms, the meaning of which every self-respecting person should know!


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This term comes from the English word “abuse” – “abuse, insult, ill-treatment“. It denotes all possible forms of violence (physical, psychological, economic, sexual) between people.

In an abusive relationship, one person is the aggressor towards the other. Paradoxically, often the victim is not aware of his position, since everyone from childhood has their own level of tolerance to violence, instilled in us by family and society. For example, many people realize only in adulthood that their mother is an abuser, and pathological guilt and psychological manipulations cannot be the basis of healthy parent-child relationships.

Now there is a bunch of materials and checklists on the topic of abuse, so if you suddenly feel uncomfortable while reading, I recommend delving deeper into the topic.

Shadow side of the term: call any violation of your comfort zone “abuse” and anyone who disagrees with your point of view “abuser”.

You might be interested in: Abuse on the man’s face. How to distinguish a defender from an aggressor? Physiognomist Artem Pavlov’s advice


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The term “burnout” was introduced by the American psychiatrist H. J. Freudenberg in 1974 to denote a state of exhaustion resulting from intense and emotionally charged communication in the process of working with people. According to the WHO, burnout is caused by constant stress at work, which a person cannot successfully cope with.

Burnout is characterized by three components:

  • feeling of energy depletion;
  • increased alienation towards work and colleagues (children, patients, clients, etc.), negative attitude towards work, cynicism;
  • increased inefficiency.

Burnout can and should be worked on. It is good if you manage to “intercept” this state in time and have the opportunity to work it out with a psychologist, go on vacation or even change your professional field.

Shadow side of the term: blame burnout on other conditions, such as temporary apathy, nervous irritation, or even PMS.


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We can say that this is the “little black dress” in the world of pop psychology. Back in the 2010s, the term became popular, especially among darker subcultures. Every emo girl in the class was bound to be depressed. It was then that depressive aesthetics seriously confused the cards for psychologists, because idealizing mental illness is very dangerous and can lead to serious consequences.

Let’s talk again about what depression is.

According to WHO, depression is a common mental disorder characterized by depression, loss of interest or joy, guilt and low self-esteem, sleep or appetite disturbances, lethargy, and poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and have a significant impact on a person’s ability to cope with the challenges of daily life. In its most severe form, depression can lead to suicide.

Depression has its own biochemical characteristics, which can only be corrected through drug treatment. Therefore, if you notice signs of depression in yourself, you need to talk to a specialist who will confirm or deny suspicions and prescribe the necessary treatment.

Shadow side of the term: Due to popular culture, depression is often referred to as any relatively long-term depressed state or mood.

You might be interested in: Indian sage Sadhguru on what depression is in reality and how to overcome it so that “the life inside you does not fade away”


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This is a classic mechanism for protecting the human self by belittling others. Roughly speaking, one person protects his personality, lifestyle, values ​​and actions by “devaluing” the other. Devaluation includes phrases: “No need to be sad, children in Africa have no food“,”But you and the man“,”In our time, there were no psychologists“,”All women are fools” etc.

Shadow side of the term: Perceive as devaluation any criticism addressed to you.

Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome
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Very often, on the Internet, you can find another blogger-expert who tells subscribers about his overcoming the impostor syndrome. With this term, psychotherapists Pauline Rose Clance and Susan Ames in 1978 designated a phenomenon in which a person constantly experiences anxiety that his achievements are the result of a coincidence, and not of his own work, talent and personality traits.

The authors of the term especially singled out successful women, most of whom doubted the authenticity of their own success.

An equally interesting mechanism is the devaluation of one’s own successes due to the fear of negative assessment. For example, I still assure myself and others that it is not so difficult to defend a diploma at the University of Bologna.

Shadow side of the term: Be afraid to admit to yourself that the job was not done very well and to write off your doubts on the impostor syndrome.


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In 2018, the Oxford Dictionary made toxicity the word of the year, after which it became very popular on social media. Initially, this word did not refer to psychology, but recently it has been used precisely to explain certain psychological phenomena, for example, “toxic muscularity” or “toxic relationships”.

Toxicity is broadly defined as a negative, emotionally difficult experience with another person. As a rule, toxicity means passive aggression, manipulation, devaluation, blackmail, abuse. The funny thing is that now the characteristic “toxic” is endowed with brands, media or public figures, that is, everything that can interact with a person.

Shadow side of the term: Since the term has not yet found concreteness, you should simply avoid using the term whenever possible. And then you can be considered Ellochka the Cannibal.

Read also: “My parents are monsters!” 5 signs of toxic parents and how to deal with them


The popularization of psychology helps people to become more aware of themselves in this world, harmoniously build relationships with others and be friends with themselves. That is why it is so important not only to use publicized terms, but also to understand their meanings.

I hope my little dictionary will be useful for you on the difficult path of self-knowledge.

Do you often use these popular words in your speech? Share your answers in the comments!

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