The term ‘Psychobabble’ is coined by R. D. Rosen in Psychobabble: Fast Talk and Quick Cure in the Era of Feeling (1977) – a critique of DIY ego-psychology – and defined as: ‘a set of repetitive verbal formalities that kills off the very spontaneity, candour and understanding it pretends to promote.
It’s an idiom that reduces psychological insight to a collection of standardized observations, that provides a frozen lexicon to deal with an infinite variety of problems. Common in everyday speech and re-created/reproduced in fiction (e.g. Cyra McFadden’s clever satirical novel The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County, 1977). It is discussed by David Lodge in a witty essay in Working with Structuralism (1981) in which he cites such instances as: ‘get centred’, ‘into the pits’, ‘flash on’, ‘blow away’, ‘off the wall’, ‘wig out’, ‘upfront’, ‘spaced/spaced out/spacey’. All have metaphorical or semi-metaphorical meanings, in some cases, a good deal removed from the literal sense. For example, ‘off the wall’ signifies ‘spontaneously’.