1. What does the phrase "dogma eat dogma" mean?
  2. What does "eat" mean literally? What part of speech does "eat" belong to? Is it a verb? What synonyms can it be substituted for, according to its literal meaning used in the phrase? If it is a verb, why is it not in 3sg form?

Once upon a time, psychotherapists and self-help authors were trained in a single theoretical approach with little regard to scientific research. Those “dogma eat dogma” days are over. Much in the way medicine today integrates the best treatments in many areas, Changeology reflects the contemporary movement toward the integration of approaches and embodies the best of scientific research. (Norcross, J. C. Changeology: 5 steps to realizing your goals and resolutions. New York, 2013. — Subsection "An Integrated Approach".)


1 Answer 1


This is play on words with the phrase dog-eat-dog world, which means an environment of ruthless competition in which individuals must confront and attack each other to survive. Here's an illustrative use from East Central Europe in the Modern World: The Politics of the Borderlands by Andrew C. Janos:

... Mussolini embraced Nietzsche's profound pessimism about the human condition and his perception of life as a perennial struggle for survival in a "dog-eat-dog" world.

The play here is to substitute the like-sounding word dogma for dog. The quote is about the old days in which psychobabbleists were each trained in a particular approach (i.e., their particular form of psychobabble) without regard to scientific research. This means that these approaches were individual belief systems founded on assumptions, which is fair definition of dogma. Thus the world of "psychotherapy" was a battle between individual therapists with different dogmas. The competition between therapists is metaphorically transferred to their ideologies as a dogma-eat-dogma world.

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    Along with: "my karma ran over my dogma" Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 1:28
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    @LamarLatrell I've heard the slightly less introspective My karma ran over your dogma.
    – deadrat
    Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 5:37
  • @LamarLatrell Does the phrases on karma and dogma mean that one's doings differ from what he, she or somebody wants to be in life? Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 16:04
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    @user2683246, it can mean whatever it means to you, but yes I'd agree with your interpretation, but perhaps add that it also infers that whatever your ideals are now that your past can always catch up with you. So perhaps more that your past 'doings' differ from what you want to be (now). Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 20:47

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