Friday, October 21, 2011

Misuse of Mental Health Terms

The BBC News Magazine (U.K.) raises an excellent point: When psychological terms with scientific definitions are casually bandied about, does it contribute to our understanding of mental illness or reduce the stigma associated with the diagnosis? You know what the answer to this rhetorical question is.

"The neighbour who keeps his house tidy has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). A socially awkward colleague is autistic. The weather isn't just changeable, it's bipolar.

"Such analogies are so familiar they surely qualify as cliches. They are also inaccurate and, to many, deeply offensive.

"Campaigners are targeting what many say is an increasingly common practice - deploying the language of clinical diagnosis to describe everyday personality traits.

"Using these terms metaphorically is just a joke, not to be taken seriously, argue some. Others, however, warn that this serves to further obfuscate conditions that are widely misunderstood and stigmatised...."

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