Wednesday, 19 October 2011

This Sort Of Thing Drives Me Mad!

Terms like "bipolar", "autistic" and "schizophrenic" are often used in jest to describe character traits. But how harmful is it to bandy the names of such conditions about?
Note the phrasing; ‘how harmful is it?’, not ‘is it harmful?’…
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.
I have to say, that’s not a term I’ve ever used about the weather…
Such analogies are so familiar they surely qualify as cliches. They are also inaccurate and, to many, deeply offensive.
Ah. Here we are with the ‘giving of offence’ again. Surely this decade’s Eighth Deadly Sin...

So, who’s driving this?
Arun Chopra, a consultant psychiatrist at Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham and the author of the British research, believes the tendency has a negative impact on the treatment of patients.
Shouldn’t he be, I dunno, treating them? Rather than worrying about language?
He argues that deploying terms in such a way contributes to public misunderstanding - for instance, reinforcing the false notion that schizophrenia is a "Jekyll and Hyde" illness related to split personalities.

Moreover, he says it can be deeply upsetting to patients and their families, and recalls seeing a woman whose son was diagnosed with the condition bursting into tears when she read a newspaper article which described the weather as "schizophrenic".
Sounds like she could do with some therapy…
"You would never hear it used in relation to a physical condition. You wouldn't hear someone being described as a bit diabetic."
Ahem: ‘lame duck economy’, ‘deaf to the consequences’, ‘crippled with doubt’, anyone..?
… he says he would like the Oxford English Dictionary to remove its secondary definition of schizophrenic: "With the implication of mutually contradictory or inconsistent elements".
I’d like a pony. I’m not likely to get one.
However, not all those affected by frequently misapplied conditions object to their use in this manner.

The Daily Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon, who has been diagnosed with OCD, says she frequently has to point out that her disorder involves more than simply cleaning her house.

But she feels that attempting to clamp down on this kind of use of the term veers close to political correctness - and, moreover, that she is grateful the condition is, at least, widely discussed.
Oh, what does she know? She should shut up and let Dr Feelgood make all her decisions for her….

H/T Bucko, who wonders if there's a mental health issue to tag those who have such a sense of humour failure about this sort of thing.

5 comments:

Captain Haddock said...

Funny .. but I thought that BiPolar was Ursus Maritimus, with a sexual identity problem ..

And of course .. you're never alone with schizophrenia .. or then again, maybe you're just in two minds about it .. ;)

Henry Crun said...

"H/T Bucko, who wonders if there's a mental health issue to tag those who have such a sense of humour failure about this sort of thing."

Don't know if it's a metal health issue, but it is commonly known as "being a fuckwit"

dognamedblue said...

I'd hazard a guess that there's no "misunderstanding" by the public, they know most of these "illnesses" are purely fictional to sell more drugs

JuliaM said...

"Funny .. but I thought that BiPolar was Ursus Maritimus, with a sexual identity problem .."

SNORK!

Bessie said...

'… he says he would like the Oxford English Dictionary to remove its secondary definition of schizophrenic: "With the implication of mutually contradictory or inconsistent elements."'

Oh yes. Because removal of a definition from the OED is guaranteed to prevent semantic shift. Cretins.