Words Matter

Harold Maio, MA and Sylvia Caras, Ph D

       + Words Matter: "It is language that provides the key tool for communicating prejudice interpersonally and cross-generationally."

Mass, A and Arcuri, L., *Language and Stereotyping* in Stereotypes and Stereotyping, Macrae et all, eds. 1996, New York: Guilford, p 193.

The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right name.
     Chinese Proverb

"Changing how the public labels categories changes the associations those labels invoke in people's minds, which in turn changes their affective attitudes toward what is being described."  David Green, Hofstra University

 

     -
rhetoric appeals to the emotions instead of to reason
     
have she has a toothache
he has depression
suffer
are

burden
afflicted
struggling
victims
a person who people with psychiatric disabilities are not generic
people with psychiatric disabilities are not homogeneous
the use of the definite and indefinite articles imply an erroneous commonality that depersonalizes and thus devalues
the mentally ill
the homeless
have
experience
she has a diagnosis
he hears voices
they experience fear
is schizophrenic
are bipolar
mental illnesses
schizophrenias
these descriptors collect many many different syndromes and disorders that are not homogeneous  mental illness
schizophrenia
health
disability
cross-disability
health is seamless; if you must distinguish, you can say mental health/ other health
mental disability is included in disability
physical health
physical disability
person-first person before any descriptor
person diagnosed with schizophrenia
person who has mood swings
person who has anxiety
person who has a psychiatric disability
schizophrenic
bipolar
spmi
loved ones
beds
case

non-compliant
discrimination
prejudice
mental health specific words add to separation and shaming and stereotype stigma
universal coverage it is disparity when the only forced treatment coverage is for mental illnesses parity
less visible mental illnesses may not be as visible as some other disabilities, but in English, hidden often suggests a reason to be secretive, ashamed hidden disability
with primary service users are full partners in all aspects of services for
choices the right to treatment has come to mean the right to be coerced into treatment reframing
affirm
value
prefixing prejudical words with "not" effectively plants the negative in the listener's ear not
not dangerous
alternatives
exceptionalizing life's vicissitudes is prejudicial preventable tragedies
forced drugging

experiences creates barriers to peer support and peer organizing; divisive high-functioning
low-functioning
self-determination
integration
many are not returning or rediscovering; instead they are designing a new self and style, transforming themselves recovery
rehabilitation

At its September 00 meeting, the Center for Mental Health Services National Advisory Council accepted the recommendation of its Subcommittee on Consumer/Survivor Issues to amend the word "stigma," whenever used, to be "discrimination and stigma."

Sylvia Caras 2001.  Appreciations to Kathryn Cohan for formatting.  Last edited 02/18/05