The Mental Health Service Users have taken over the assylum

OCD, bipolar, schizophrenic and the misuse of mental health terms. BBC News

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?
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.

Deeply offensive. Once upon a time, if someone was deeply offended, it meant that their feeling were severely hurt which caused them real emotional distress and upset.

Today it means they are a bit miffed.

Speaking as someone who is often referred to as having O.C.D., I can't really see a problem with it. Because I have the tidiest desk at work and probably the most efficient filing system ever to have existed, my colleagues are always saying I have O.C.D. and ribbing me for it. Some have even gone as far as to say I have C.D.O.

That is O.C.D. but with the letters in the correct order.

None of it bothers me, it's just a bit of office banter. But I suppose that's just us.

As Mental Health Awareness Week begins, campaigners are targeting what many say is an increasingly common practice - deploying the language of clinical diagnosis to describe everyday personality traits.

I wasn't aware that mental health required an awareness week, and neither am I aware of a mental illness that I could use to describe these humourless people who have no room in their lives for a bit of comedy.
[...] 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".
If we are to believe that far fetched story then we must ask the question, if her son had been killed for his mobile phone, would she have broken down when hearing the term, "I could murder a sandwich"?

"The use of the word as a metaphor is tremendously damaging," [...] "It's part of the process of creating a stigma around mental illness.

Or maybe it's part of not stigmatising mental illness. Part of the stigma is the inability to discuss issues in public. I would argue that rather than trivialising or stigmatising mental illness, using these terms in light hearted situations could be have a more normalising affect.

I know that if I really did have OCD, I would not be stigmatised in the office but accepted for who I am.

Of course, deploying medical language to describe character traits is hardly a new phenomenon. Words like cretin and lunatic were originally formal terms to describe specific conditions before they more commonly came to be used pejoratively.

Of course language is always changing over time. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not, but trying to control language in a quest for political correctness will always have a negative effect, one being the dilution of words like 'deeply offended'.
Still, attempts by some mental health service users to reclaim pejorative labels under the banner of so-called "mad pride" demonstrate that there is unlikely to ever be consensus about the best way to respond.
The flippant use of such terms nowadays may offend some and not bother others. But such a dynamic is part of the words' evolution, says Joel Rose, director of OCD Action.

This is simply an example of of taking offence on behalf of others. You find that some people are not offended at all. I wonder how these 'mad pride' people would respond to being called 'Mental health service users'?

In the quest to eradicate 'offense' we may well be doing away with humour at the same time.


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