Saturday, September 14, 2013

When I say 'PSYCHO' / "SAIKO"... I mean something else...

Poster for the 1960 film that changed cinematic horror forever.
When most people hear the word 'psycho' we immediately picture a shower curtain hissing as it's ripped back to reveal a stark menacing silhouette to the piercing shriek of violins and a helpless woman screaming !

We're never more vulnerable than when we're naked.


This is due to the influence in pop culture of the art and craft of the great movie director Alfred Hitchcock who understood how to keep us in suspense and terrify us. The visuals and music from this less than 1 minute segment of cinema history has influenced and inspired many, many parodies and imitations for decades.

Because of this one very popular movie, we now have the word "psycho" as a commonly used word in the English language. It means a crazy person. A mentally deranged person who is seriously dangerous.
The proper English word for this condition is "insane".

"Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Alfred Hitchcock."

IN JAPAN HOWEVER when people say "saiko" 最高 , which sounds exactly the same as our English 'psycho', people mean "the best", "highest", or "supreme"!!!

I've heard it used several times while living in Japan. People say it when declaring something to be really great or "Awesome!"... but, I can't help thinking of Norman Bates,  his "Mother", and the spooky, old, dark house on the hill overlooking the desolate Bates Motel.... and smiling to myself.

He wouldn't even harm a fly. But what about his Mother?

"VACANCY".... always room for one more.

Check-in. Relax. Take a shower.
The English term "psycho" is taken directly from the word:
 "psychopath" 精神病質者
 or "psychotic" 精神病 患者 - seishinbyo kanja
These Japanese words are technical medical jargon.

"Psycho" also relates (directly or indirectly) to words like:

psychology 心理学 - shinrigaku (mind-science)
psychiatrist 精神科医 - seishinkai
psychiatry 精神医学 - seishin igaku

Which all come from the root-word "psyche" - 精神 - seishin
Psyche is the totality of the human mind, conscious, and unconscious.
Psychology is the scientific or objective study of the psyche.

The word "Psyche" means the mind but is also actually a name.
Psyche is a female character from Greek and Roman mythology 神話学.
Psyche (the Mind, or human Soul 魂 - tamashi) fell in love with Cupid (Love).

Cupid & Psyche: In love with Love.

Alfred Hitchcock created a masterpiece of suspense cinema with 'Psycho', but he didn't write it.
The book Psycho by Robert Bloch was published in 1959. Old Hitch was "on that like white on rice!"

This directly inspired the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, published in 1991 and made into a graphically violent horror film starring Christian Bale in 2000.

Christian Bale: American Psycho

NOTE: I'm told the Japanese words for "insane" {Not the technical terms mentioned above; check your Japanese dictionary} are considered very highly offensive in Japan! They are not even used on radio or T.V. in the same way network T.V. in the U.S. doesn't use the "F" or "S" words; but they are more akin in offensiveness to the "N" word when used as curse words in Japan. Yes, that offensive! Just don't use them. I note it here only because foreigners using a dictionary may not be aware of this sensitivity in Japan. In America we often say things like "You're so crazy!" or "That's insane!" to friends in a humorous way; NOT so in Japan.

So, it is better just to say "PSYCHO!" / "SAIKO!" just to be safely polite... or, politely safe!

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