Category Archives: etymology

Thought for the Day: Defining Bullshit

The Chronicle of Higher Education has just made my day, or rather two professors at The University of Washington. It’s a crying shame they aren’t located in D.C. and/or that they haven’t YET exported their wit to every State in the Union.

Here is the opening line from The Chronicle’s current Post Truth issue:

“Facts and figures are like cow pastures. Unless you squint, you can’t always tell how full of bullshit they are.”

That’s correct readers. It seems AT LEAST TWO tenured (?) academics have struck marketing gold! At my Alma Matter, the class was titled Borderlands of Science and Religion and you can view the wit who created it, under this blog’s About tab.

The current Chronicle article has a Q & A with the academics in question and I recommend giving it a read.

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Announcing Fruits, Nuts and Flakes: Massage and Bodywork Edition

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Announcing Fruits, Nuts and Flakes: Massage and Bodywork Edition!!

I am fundraising to print, produce and ship a card set for Massage educators, massage aficionados and their nemesis!!

I would like to be able to print at least 2,000 decks or more. Please share any and all feedback and thank you. I will be adding an option to purchase 1 set immediately.

Absolute Values Part Two: Epistemology, the Individual and Professional Development

This is the second article in a four part series on Professional Development for Massage Therapists. The series utilizes the terms Massage Therapist, Masseur and Masseuse as a touchstone.

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The  quote above is by philosopher Imre Lakatos, taken from a paper titled Falsification and the methodology of scientific research programs. The distinction beetween Popper and Kuhn is beyond the scope of this artice but the difference between the two is ONE point of departure to examine questions of Epistemology, Education and Professional Development for Health Professions.

What is Epistemology? (link)

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. If or when this definition is expanded to include “How we know what we know” then the resulting definition begins to reveal an insight into the rationale behind modern disagreement regarding a revised understanding of the scientific method, religion, philosophy and the individual.

What is the role of logic within Epistemology?

To ask what the role of logic is within Epistemology without resorting to reflexivity illustrates why early efforts to answer this question were superceded in many professional disciplines during the last century.  When a linguist says a word or a concept is “reflexive” they are saying that there is an absence of logic agreement between subject and object or a circular relationship between cause and effect. Thomas Kuhn approaches Wittgenstein with his emphasis on “the linguistic turn” as part of his rationale for paradigm shifts, which ultimately derive from Wittgenstein’s early and later stages of work. And then, he steps back.

Why?

In the history of science, the logical positivists or logical empiricists as the case may be, were of the opinion that philosophy needed to be legitimized and the resulting legitimacy shared with science – (author emphasis). Logical positivists also proceeded with the idea that ONLY statements verifiable EITHER logically or empirically would be cognitively meaningful. This definition presents issues that we recognize today in debates between science researchers such as Kuhn and Popper.

Logical positivism is justifiably credited with scientific reductionism. Another way to describe this is to define it as A.J. Ayers has done; an “Attack on Metaphysics.” Many academics, intellectuals and political scientists recoiled from Logical Positivism at this time, including many faith based religious groups and denominations. A former note on the result can be seen in the shift of political and voting demographics in the American South after the Second World War from predominately Democrat to Republican.

Logical Positivism was supposedly abandoned because it was revealed that empirical PHILOSOPHICAL claims that supposedly are presumed to undergird scientific endeavors cannot be VERIFIED to be UNIVERSALLY true and that this revelation placed limits on how much we can know. This “revelation” (a form of knowledge itself) filtered into common parlance (language) in phrases such as “the linguistic turn” cited above. It is also another way to describe phrases such as “asymmetrical information” which are frequently floated to describe a variety of imbalances in power implied by terms such as “Balkanization” and resulting abuses.

Professional Development and Massage Terminology

Massage Therapist, Masseur or Masseuse? There are many reasons it is legitimate for a LMT to explore their professionalism and professional growth and development thru language. What is important to note is that the search by empiricists discussed above has several presumptions embedded in it about the limits of knowledge and by default, these presumptions encapuslate the limits of how LMT’s and CAM practitioners can go with a mind-body-spirit paradigm of holistic wellness.

Pop culture’s view of modernism credits Freud, rightly or wrongly, with being the first psychologist to articulate a perceived need for a body based psychotherapy,
predicated on the premise that none existed. At the time of Freud’s early musings on this idea, modernism was in full bloom and approaching what many advocates of a religiously (monotheistic) based ontology for psychotherapy would come to call “decadence” at full speed. This is one reason among many that Freud and Jung continue to receive criticism from both liberal and conservative scientists, researchers and practicing members of the various psychological professions…(not to mention but also implied, are those practicing members of fields such as massage and physical therapy. )

By definition, physical therapists and massage therapists are members of the health professions that would be the counterpart or missing piece of such empirical “solipsism” on one hand or more kindly “the quest” to create a science based view of universal history with all that implies.

Many members of the CAM professions utilize some view of religion, philosophy and spirituality in various ways as a stop gap measure when confronting questions such as the one mentioned above. This is not the only avenue in which gender, (in scientific parlance a mere variable) substitutes symbolically for a subjective view of wholeness; raising additional aesthetic questions about the relationship between individual and universal values.

Ludwig Wittgenstien made a comment many years ago on the role of the subjective deployment of language in order to make a larger point. One way to condense Wittgenstien’s position into something tangible is to do what any Deconstructionist would: take the words apart!

I tried this myself in a college English writing class in 2006, unaware that there was a meme coined by Saturday Night Live by that title and created a pitifully poor poem in my own and my professors opinion! The title of the poem was of course, “The Rapist.”

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Knowledge, Language and The Individual

Ludwig Wittgenstien more eloquently stated in his work Philosophical Investigations: “The words of this (private) language are to refer to what can be known only to the speaker; to his immediate, private, sensations. So another cannot understand the language.” But there is more. It is worthwhile to quote another paragraph from Stanford’s online encyclopedia entry on the subject according to Wittgenstein.

“Immediately after introducing the idea, Wittgenstein goes on to argue that there cannot be such a language. The importance of drawing philosophers’ attention to a largely unheard-of notion and then arguing that it is unrealizable lies in the fact that an unformulated reliance on the possibility of a private language is arguably essential to mainstream epistemology, philosophy of mind and metaphysics from Descartes to versions of the representational theory of mind which became prominent in late twentieth century cognitive science….Wittgenstein suggests that the existence of the rules governing the use of language and making communication possible depends on agreement in human behaviour—such as the uniformity in normal human reaction which makes it possible to train most children to look at something by pointing at it. (Unlike cats, which react in a seemingly random variety of ways to pointing.) One function of the private language argument is to show that not only actual languages but the very possibility of language and concept formation depends on the possibility of such agreement.”

Professional Development and Axiology

Axiology is typically defined by it’s first branch, ethics. In this way it can be said that Axiology is concerned with how value is understood and determined. Axiology however contains a second branch known as aesthetics. Do note, Aesthetics is NOT synonymous with Esthetics. Often, Axiology is accused of putting the cart before the horse and assigning value unethically or dualistically rather than universally; i.e, racism, nationalism, classism etc.

Basic questions derived or culled from Axiology are:

  1. How are values related to interest, desire, will, experience, and means-to-end?
  2. How do different kinds of value interrelate?
  3. Can the distinction between intrinsic and instrumental values be maintained?
  4. Are values ultimately rationally or objectively based?
  5. What is the difference between a matter of fact and a matter of value?

In professional massage, the question of language is actually a settled matter that was reached by consensus. Hence, current manifestations of individualism thru the application of gendered terminology or terms such as body worker, or even those terms that would purport to change the subject object relationship embedded in the professional designation really are a moot point. However, its not wrong to question if there are situations or contexts in which discussion of gender labels and professionalism are appropriate.

Is there ever a time when gender distinctions in professional massage are inappropriate?

All the questions cited above are value based. Because of the historic connections between eugenics, health and aesthetically grounded idealism, yes. There are instances where gendered terminology, art and discourse can conflict ideologically with norms and values embodied in a professional setting for a variety of reasons. That these reasons are 99% of the time subjective and personal matters of taste, style or belief for individuals or groups, illustrates why diversity is commonly considered alongside axiology.

Crowd Source Promotes Prostitution over a 14.7 Billion Dollar Spa Industry

Writers and Professional LMT’s take note! I recently submitted a 200 word answer to a basic question in what I thought was a delicate and discreet way. CrowdSource’s stated question was worded in a way I found suspect as a Professional for both the taxonomy and language used to phrase the question. What I wrote follows but first note the rejection I received.

We are unable to use this HIT: Your article was flagged for the following issues: Your content fails to answer the question. Your work contains unapproved source links. Source links provided no information with respect to the question. Content did not answer the question. Resources are supposed to be to the exact page you found your information, not just the homepage.

Answer Type: Opinion
Question:
What information can be obtained from massage parlor reviews?
Category: Business & Finance > Business Resources
Provide your first resource link:
http://www.experienceispa.com/
Provide your second resource link: (optional)
http://www.amtamassage.org/index.html
Provide your third resource link: (optional)
https://www.fsmtb.org/
Provide your fourth resource link: (optional)
http://www.abmp.com/
Provide your fifth resource link: (optional)
http://www.spafinder.com/about/industry_news.jsp

Answer:
The Massage Industry does not recognize the term “Massage Parlor” as a legal enterprise or as an accurate depiction and representation of the massage profession. Due to the societal practice of double standards which conflate and abuse both the massage profession and the spa industry which brought in 14.7 million dollars in revenue last year according to The International Spa Association, information obtained from a ‘massage parlour review’ is suspect.
Directions: Check here ONLY if your first sentence gave the direct answer to the question. Do not check otherwise.
Additional Details:
Use of the word “parlor” is a historical nod to the Gilded Age. In the modern era, use of this term is suspect among spa industry professionals and among those professions broadly associated with the concepts of Spas in general. The International Spa Association or ISPA, represents a total of 20,183 spas around the world. Spa Finder and Conde Nast Traveller among others, provide reputable information and reviews of spas around the world from industry insiders and professionals. Spas provide a number of services in relation to wellness and broadly speaking, services related to cosmetology. These professionals are represented by a number of licensing, certifying, and educational organizations, public and private. If a consumer is seeking sexual services, they may wish to conduct quests for information in more discreet language that does not conflate and undermine industries that create global opportunity and jobs for many people around the world. Hospitality, Tourism, Cosmetology, Massage, Esthetics, Philosophy, Health, Wellness and associated fields are not the private preserves of sexual hedonists and are not open to linguistic colonization. Therefore information that utilizes this terminology will necessarily be conflicting and a source of conflict as long as it creates artificial divisions that can only be termed post modern from an industry and professional standpoint.

Chakra of the Week: The Unstruck Anahata

 

 

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Anahata: The Unstruck

The Heart Chakra is the center for unconditional love, compassion, empathy, forgiveness and tolerance. The Heart is the seat of the Soul.

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Aromatherapy

Support heart chakra balance with the following:

yoga/physical exercises

  • Try swimming (breast stroke).
  • Do pushups.
  • Practice heart-opening techniques like hugging.
  • Suggested yoga poses: camel pose or eagle

Essences of fruit, leaf and flower combine to create a harmonious whole to produce balance at your heart chakra center.

Ingredients:

Directions:

Blend essential oils, then add to water in a spray mister bottle. Shake contents vigorously then mist self and airspace to encourage a soothed and accepting heart.

In my experience, vertiver soothes my heart center and always has. It is my personal recommendation to add vertiver to any heart chakra aromatherapy or essential oil blend or recipe.

History of Massage Therapy

Theraputic

The History of Massage as a modern phenomena or definable school of Western thought and practice can only be traced back to the 1800′s. Despite this, there are many references to rubbing with oils and unguents for health and medicinal purposes going back to around 1500 B.C. in China.

Many sources take this number back even further but at such a point, the historiography begins to get shaky and the evidence becomes isolated into fragmentary images depicted in stone or the odd text that managed to survive the ravages of time.

For instance, The Nei Ching or The Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine which describes massage, can only be reliably dated to 1500 B.C. but many scholars attempt to push that date back further to 2500 B.C.

Chinese yellow emperor internal medicine classic

The historical debate about Chinese origins centers on the Chinese custom of attributing new works to popular figures such as a favorite Emperor as a gesture of respect. I am willing to leave such historical speculation to others and choose instead to concentrate on the most reliable facts and figures.

Ancient Egyptian carvings also depict massage and Julius Caesar was known to have massage administered for neuralgia.

history_of_reflexology

The ancient science of Ayurveda also advocates the use of massage and massage was common for participants in sporting events in ancient Greece. In ancient Rome, as in ancient Egypt, massage was offered to the public in bath houses and temple complexes as part and parcel of the process of relaxation and bathing.

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You may be surprised to learn that there is no written definition of massage from ancient times. Early physicians advocated friction and rubbing of the body and while they did describe how to do this rubbing and why, none wrote a definition of the discipline. Greek physician Galen gave us a description when he wrote Hygiene, stating that ‘the rubbing should be of many sorts with strokes and circuits of the hands, carrying them not only from above, down but from below up, but also subvertically, obliquely, transversely and subtransversely.” Despite there being no professional definition, what we do know, is that people have been rubbing one another for a variety of purposes almost as long as we have existed and that the practice shows no signs of dying out.

Massage is a healthy and vibrant expression of care and compassion for ourselves and our fellow human beings. In the Western world, massage was part of movement therapy and gymnastics before it was adopted by medical physicians. Ambrose Pare and Clement Joseph Tissot both wrote about massage in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries but it was not until Per Henrick Ling arrived on the scene that massage as we know it began to take shape around advances in medical knowledge. Lings work combined movement therapy and gymnastics with soft tissue manipulation and became known as Swedish massage. In fact, it isn’t until the turn of the 20th century that the word massage comes into its own as a medical term. It was John Harvey Kellogg of Battle Creek Sanitarium who defined the traditional Swedish terms, effleurage, petrissage, and tapotement, as ‘massage.’ Despite this and many other early references to massage by Western medical doctors, massage is still regarded as a complimentary and alternative health practice or CAM by the AMA and not as a medical one. The standard-bearer for Professional Massage Therapy is the AMTA, which was formed in 1943 and is itself a partner with the American Medical Association. In 1992, the AMTA initialized the creation of the NCBTMB or National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, which is one of the primary organizations for certified massage therapists. A newcomer to the field is the FSMTB or Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. The FSMTB also offers a recognized certification for its adherents.

There are many types of massage and I could not name them all if I tried! The most common therapeutic forms are Swedish, Sports, Deep Tissue and Neuromuscular Therapy to name only a few. There are more ‘exotic’ derivatives, such as Shiastu, Lomilomi and Reflexology as well as the more intensive varieties such as Rolfing, Trager and the Alexander technique which require separate and additional training. All fall under the broad rubric of massage.

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The etymology of the word massage itself is fraught with political history. As it stands, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Sanskrit and Semitic origins for the word massage are all touted by various vested interests with axes to grind about why their position is the correct one and how History itself, is validated by their point of view. As an example of the seeming lack of consensus have a look at the following examples of the etymology of the word massage, all from online and verifiable sources.

  • Merriam-Webster @ M-W.com: French, from masser to massage, from Arabic massa to stroke. First Known Use in English: circa 1860
  • Webster’s New World @ YourDictionary.com: French < masser, to massage < Arabic massa, to touch
  • American Heritage @ YourDictionary.com: French, from masser, to massage, from Arabic masaḥa, to stroke, anoint; see mšḥ in Semitic roots or massa, to touch; see mšš in Semitic roots.
  • Collins English @ Dictionary.com: 19thCentury: from French, from masser to rub; see mass [NOTE: at ‘’mass’’, ‘’mass’’ is stated to be from Latin ‘’massa’’]
  • Chambers Dictionary @ ChambersHarrap.co.uk:: 19th Century: French, from masser to massage, from Greek massein to knead. [question: directly modern Greek? or ancient Greek along unspecified path?]
  • Concise OED @ OxfordDictionaries.com: late 19th century: from French, from masser ‘knead, treat with massage’, probably from Portuguese amassar ‘knead’, from massa ‘dough’
  • Random House @ Dictionary.com: 1875–80; < F, equiv. to mass ( er ) to massage (< Ar massa to handle) + -age

I am not a linguist, but it seems that there is a great deal of work to be done when it comes to the History of Massage etymology, as there is no definitive agreement. But I am willing to believe that at least one of these dictionaries is correct. What interests my inner nerd about such issues are the implications of each position historically and how those positions relate to broader worldviews. I don’t have the linguistic training to discern the answer for myself, so I have to come to a conclusion by going the long way around. It comes from my contextual nature and the style of learning I picked up as a child who loved to read and discern big words from the contexts in which they were used. I know I may have lost many of you with this tangent and I apologize if so!

Suffice it to say, the history of massage is varied and vast and encompasses the history of almost every culture on the planet. My hope for Massage in the 21st century is that it will not be afraid to redefine itself as required to meet the needs of its practitioners and those who seek them out. Any practice that has survived for so long throughout and across history should not be relegated to the backwaters of Empire but should be embraced by the best and the brightest among us as offering something of tremendous value and lasting significance.

References

http://www.thebodyworker.com/history.htm

http://www.wischik.com/lu/massage/ljwhistory.html

http://www.recreationtherapy.com/history/rthistory1.htm

http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/forums/viewthread/2346/

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=Massage&searchmode=none