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"I don't talk about me like a TV show character would to his shrink"

I've heard this alternate usage very rarely, so I couldn't understand what the person means when he/she says it.

I guess this is not the literal meaning of the word 'shrink', which is to reduce in size?

I also read about another usage, where 'shrink' means your psychiatrist or doctor, but the above sentence definitely means something in a different context, not as a doctor but a different meaning. Can someone explain this please?

marked as duplicate by Marthaª, Janus Bahs Jacquet, Cascabel, TrevorD, JJJ Apr 24 at 16:39

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    Why are you discounting the possibility of shrink = psychiatrist? Try substituting "shrink" with "psychiatrist" in your sentence: is the interpretation still a mystery? – Marthaª Apr 21 at 6:09
  • I don't think this is a duplicate. Please check the last paragraph of the question, the word 'shrink' here might have a completely different meaning or reference that isn't 'doctor' or 'psychiatrist'. @sumelic – Shubham Deshmukh Apr 21 at 6:10
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    Again, why do you believe what you wrote in your last paragraph? Have you looked up the word "shrink" in multiple dictionaries? Do any of them supply any meanings other than "make smaller" and "psychiatrist"? – Marthaª Apr 21 at 6:12
  • Thanks @sumelic for the beautiful explanation. I found the sentence here on this page: stackoverflow.com/questions/1815613/… , you might have to Ctrl+F it. It's a hidden comment on the question by e-satis. – Shubham Deshmukh Apr 21 at 6:19

It has been clarified that this usage of the word "shrink" occurs in a comment on a Stack Overflow post that starts with

Let's say you have a company running a lot of C/C++, and you want to start planning migration to new technologies so you don't end up like COBOL companies 15 years ago.

The original poster followed up with a comment explaining that this is a truly hypothetical situation:

The "Let's say you have a company" is clearly an hypothetical case, I don't talk about me like a tv show character would to his shrink :-)

The word "shrink" in this sentence does refer to a psychotherapist/psychiatrist/psychologist. . That meaning fits the sentence, and it is probably the most common meaning of "shrink" when the word is used as a noun referring to something/someone that can be talked to. "To reduce in size" is the definition for "shrink" as a verb.

The sentence appears to be assuming the existence of a familiar stereotype where in a conversation with a psychotherapist, a TV show character might present as hypothetical a problem that is actually real. I don't actually have much of a stereotype about that exact situation, but both "presenting as hypothetical a problem that is actually real" and "talking to a psychiatrist" do seem to me to be fairly stereotypical behaviors for TV characters. Maybe two common stereotypes about TV characters have been combined to form the less common stereotype that this sentence refers to.

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    "Shrink" as slang for a psychiatrist is short for "headshrinker." Classroom.synonym.com (classroom.synonym.com/…) says, "The first known use of 'headshrinker' as a slang term for a psychotherapist is in the Nov. 27, 1950 issue of Time magazine, which asserted that anyone who had predicted the phenomenal success of the television Western 'Hopalong Cassidy' would have been sent to a 'headshrinker.'" – Literalman Apr 23 at 15:50

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