Suppose you hear something — a fact, a word — for the very first time. You’ve never in your life heard of this thing.
Have you ever had it so happen that you then hear this thing two or three more times in the next few days?
Here’s an example. Today, for the first time ever, I heard about something called a “Psychological Support Dog.” Ashley Judd has one. It’s a dog that… I don’t know, barks to keep the crazy away or something. Like maybe when crazy people aren’t sure they just saw Elvis having sex with Donkey Kong, they look at the dog, and if the dog is all chill, they think, “Okay, that’s a hallucination; everything’s normal; I can just continue cutting myself in peace.”
But anyway this is A Thing now in the psychiatric community.
How do I know this? Because randomly I listen to an Adam Carolla podcast with the guy from the Dollar Shave Club, and Carolla talks about Carrie Fischer’s Psychological Support Dog for fifteen minutes. And I haven’t listened to Carolla in two months — I just needed something to listen to while I was cooking.
So, within two hours, I went from never having heard of a Psychological Support Dog at all to writing about it on my blog and then listening to Adam Carolla complaining about them for an extended period of time. From zero times in all my life, to twice within 120 minutes.
And I notice this happens with some frequency.
Anyone else have this happen?
And what’s it called? I always say the Germans must have a word for it because they have words for everything.
Update: There is a word for it, and it turns out it is rooted in German. It’s called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.
How the phenomenon came to be known as “Baader-Meinhof” is uncertain. It seems likely that some individual learned of the existence of the historic German urban guerrilla group which went by that name, and then heard the name again soon afterwards. This plucky wordsmith may then have named the phenomenon after the very subject which triggered it. But it is certainly a mouthful; a shorter name might have more hope of penetrating the lexicon.