When one reacts in a strongly negative manner to someone’s comment in internet discussion forums, that person will sometimes take that as evidence that he or she has “hit a nerve.” The logic behind such statements appears to be as follows: “given that you have disagreed so stridently, you must be harboring an unconscious, barely repressed intimation that my argument is correct — indeed, my argument must have triggered deep personal insecurities, which is the only explanation for your overreaction.”
Such reasoning is obviously stupid. In fact, I would venture to say that in 99% of cases, nerve-hitting is misdiagnosed: the putative nerve-hitter has misread the situation, misinterpreted the responder’s intended tone, or is simply a smug moron.
And this brings me to the paradox — claiming to have “hit a nerve” itself hits a nerve. Regardless of the concrete claims at issue, basically everyone reacts negatively when their contributions to a discussion are dismissed as reflections of a tragically flawed psychological state.