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I think we all experience this phenomenon once in a while, and I am experiencing it right now. It's the feeling that whatever word one tries to say it seems to be wrong (for them) or confusing (for the listeners), and would require a period of time to think out the right word that they have already known. If severed, it can lead to frustration, but it's not really about feeling insecurity.

What is the word for that?

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  • $\begingroup$ I suspect that at least in some cases--it's hard to know how many--there is also a related phenomenon of thinking you understand something (like an academic concept) when you actually don't. It sure seemed that way in classes I've taught. This may be related to the Dunning-Kruger Effect. $\endgroup$ – Chelonian May 11 '18 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ It is unclear to me what you are actually asking here. When you say 'trying to say' a word, you seem to imply you actually say the word, otherwise there wouldn't be listeners to which the word is confusing. Furthermore, I presume by 'wrong' you mean not the word you intended to say, and by 'confusing' that the listener does not understand what you are trying to say. Are these actual words or random ramblings? What do you mean by 'If severed'? Could you provide an example? $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Nov 30 '18 at 12:09
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Mental block

A mental block is an uncontrollable suppression, or repression of painful or unwanted thoughts/memories. Also can be an inability to continue or complete a train of thought, as in the case of writer's block. In the case of writer's block, many find it helpful to take a break and revisit their topic.

You can also check out a list of synonyms and related words for "forgetful and forgetfulness".

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  • $\begingroup$ To you, this answer might make sense since you wrote the question. But, nowhere in your question there is a reference to 'painful or unwanted thoughts/memories'. This seems totally unrelated. -1 $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Nov 30 '18 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ The next part "also can be" indicates that the word has two meanings: one in Freudian psychoanalysis and one fits the question. I think it is a polysemy (words with multiple meanings) $\endgroup$ – Ooker Nov 30 '18 at 13:42
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TOT: tip of the tongue phenomenon. There are several hypotheses to explain it and some neuroimaging has been done as well.

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  • $\begingroup$ does it relate to mental block? $\endgroup$ – Ooker May 18 '18 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ I believe the term mental block has the connotation of being associated with 'purposive' or 'event-related' subconscious suppression of information, e.g., repression of painful memories and lack of writing ability secondary to stress, respectively. On the other hand, TOT is benign and likely unrelated to an external event-- it is the result of weak internal embedding of the word or concept into memory. $\endgroup$ – Kevin May 18 '18 at 14:52

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