a form of speech or writing that uses psychological jargon, buzzwords, and esoteric language to create an impression of truth or plausibility, by a person lacking the experience and understanding necessary for the proper use of psychological terms

Psychobabble (a portmanteau of "psychology" or "psychoanalysis" and "babble") is a form of speech or writing that uses psychological jargon, buzzwords, and esoteric language to create an impression of truth or plausibility. The term implies that the speaker or writer lacks the experience and understanding necessary for the proper use of psychological terms. Additionally, it may imply that the content of speech deviates markedly from common sense and good judgement.


  • He didn't want to hear any new-age psychobabble, like 'find your inner peace.
    • Max Brooks (2007). "Saving Mel Brooks". Men's Health 22 (2). 
  • For the various psychological and self-help theories that abound among educated upper-middle class circles is called psychobabble.
    • James E. Combs (1994). Phony Culture: Confidence and Malaise in Contemporary America. Popular Press. p. 54. ISBN 0879726687. 
  • Just as bad, to declare everyone an addict may be even more psychobabble about people's compulsive, self-indulgent habits in need of the one true cure from the latest self-help regimen.
  • Let's knock out the psychobabble. He was a pervert, a child molester, he was a pedophile. And to be giving this much coverage to him, day in and day out, what does it say about us as a country? I just think we're too politically correct. No one wants to stand up and say we don't need Michael Jackson. He died, he had some talent, fine. There's men and women dying every day in Afghanistan. Let's give them the credit they deserve.
  • Maybe we should give to charity or do some volunteer work; helping humanity one person at a time should only take forever. Better still, how about reading another self-help book written by some new-age, psychobabble guru that shows how to obtain spiritual contentment and financial success? That'll do the trick; there's nothing quite like putting our heads in the sand.
    • Albert Piacente (2004). Complete the American Revolution!. University Press of America. p. Preface. ISBN 0761829016. 
  • Bush dismissed as 'psychobabble' comments in reviews of his book about a presumed need to prove himself to his father or to history, specifically over Iraq and his failure to write about it.
  • The psychological patter of the '70s is as inescapable as Muzak and just as numbing: Are you relating? Going through heavy changes? In touch with yourself and doing your own thing? Are you up front, or just hung up and uptight? Boston Writer R.D. (for Richard Dean) Rosen calls it psychobabble, and in his new book by that title (Atheneum, $8.95) sees America awash in soggy therapeutic clichés.
    • Time staff (December 3, 1977). "Psychobabble". Time magazine. 

Quotes in fiction

  • Horatio: [About reporting Eric's lost badge to IAB.] Ok, but you've done nothing wrong.
    Eric: Then how come I feel like I'm going to slit my own throat?
    Eric [to IAB Rick Stetler] That's a bunch of psychobabble...crap.
  • Joey: You know, maybe-- and this is just a shot in the dark-- she didn't mean to send it to the gossips at large. Maybe she's just trying to get some private closure, never dreamed she'd be subjected to the Oprah psychobabble of her life-lacking peers. Now, do you guys want something to eat, or should I just bring over a nice tray of bon-bons so you guys can hunker down and watch your stories?
  • Brennan: Sweets has trust issues involving finding a home. Since he grew up an orphan, the anger he's sublimated has paralyzed him from developing a healthy perspective on what having a home means. That made him bond with us and our home so he didn't have to deal with his own emotional insecurities.
    Booth: Bones shoots from the outside! Three points!
    Sweets: Where's that psychobabble coming from?
    Booth: Well, you left one of your psychobabble books in our bathroom.
  • [to Bishop, after offering her anger management counseling] You would do that for me? I appreciate that. I really do. But I think I'd rather you just WASH THE FUCKING DISHES AND SHUT THE FUCK UP! Fucking psychobabble bullshit asshole!
    • Naomi, Waiting..., 2005 film, Written and Directed by Rob McKittrick.
  • Maria: Look, you wanna know why you look like Grandpa 1935? She has the key. So, you have two choices, all right? You can let her in on the whole alien conspiracy thing and hope that it shakes something loose from the dusty corners of her brain, or you can... No. You know what? That's not gonna work, so look... You have that one option, all right?
    Michael: No, no, no. What's my second option?
    Maria: You're not capable of it, I promise.
    Michael: Just say it.
    Maria: Form an emotional bond with Laurie. [Michael shakes his head] All right, fine. You don't like that answer, then go show her the secret alien handshake.
    Michael: [sighs] Okay, fine. What kind of psychobabble, Oprah crap do I gotta tell her?
    Maria: I can't put the words in your mouth, Michael. It's gotta come from you. It's gotta come from your-- it's gotta come from whatever organ you have sitting in for your heart. Just go over there and tell her in your own words that she can trust you, and make sure that she feels that you're being completely, emotionally honest.
  • We've all had the experience of talking about a long-lost friend with someone, and then out of the blue the phone rings and it's that same long-lost friend. Famous psychobabble quack Carl Jung called these occurrences "synchronicity." Skeptics regard these synchronicities events as mere coincidences. Others posit a pie-in-the-sky cosmic connection linking all things. Take a guess on which side of the argument I fall.
    • "Mary Shannon" in In Plain Sight, Season 1, episode 6: High Priced Spread (6 July 2008), written by Matt Ward

See also

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