Author Topic: Derogatory terms about mental illness  (Read 10833 times)

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violinp

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #60 on: March 19, 2013, 02:26:03 PM »
But the word psycho does have a specific meaning. Where do you think it comes from? It is from either psychotic or psychopathic, condition not to be thrown about lightly. It is kind if like me labelling everyone a derogatory word for a loose woman if they play scrabble with more than one man in their life. Just because it is acceptable in my group and everyone uses the word S*** all the time does not make it less hurtful. If they diagnosis was separated from the term, it would be different. I am glad to now know that if I have a bad day with my bipolar, I cannot be offend if someone calls me a psycho. I am just too sensitive.

POD. It has both a dictionary definition and connotation that are both uncomplimentary at best. Would it be okay if someone said, "Oh, I'm depressed because I didn't get my Coke today."? No, it wouldn't, because words mean things. Depressed and disappointed are not synonyms, and they shouldn't be treated as such. Someone who behaves in a bizarre or dangerous manner is not automatically a "psycho," any more than someone who didn't get a beverage has a mental condition that sometimes means that attending to basic needs is a great mental effort.

Mental illness is not something to joke about or to take lightly. I don't mean that people who have a mental illness cannot joke about their own experiences, but those who do not have mental illness need to be thoughtful of how they talk about such things, because life would be a lot more pleasant if we were considerate of other people's life experiences

I totally think that would be an okay thing to say.  If I overheard someone say that I wouldn't think they were making a literal comparison to an individual diagnosed with clinical depression.  I also wouldn't think someone stating they were "starved" for lunch was making light of literal starvation.  I think it's an acceptable use of language.  It's exaggeration, hyperbole, levity, frustration, or whimsy depending on the phrase. 

It hurts me to be that literal - I'm just not wired for it.

Well, it's irritating to me when people appropriate my mental condition to mean that they're slightly disappointed about something. Someone who didn't get a desired beverage can be disappointed, down, unhappy, or upset, but when that person says, "I'm depressed," it conjures in my mind an image of someone not even caring enough to get out of bed in the morning or feed themselves. That's a vast difference of emotion to me, and I wouldn't use the word if it didn't fit what I was actually feeling or going through.
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #61 on: March 19, 2013, 02:34:58 PM »
Years ago I knew a guy who was bipolar, the boyfriend of a good friend.  He made it well known that he was bipolar because he used it as an excuse for every jerky thing he did.   (much more than a jerk really but any stronger would wouldn't be allowed by the filter)

Now I've met other people who are bipolar who are very nice people since then so I know that being a complete jerk is NOT a part of being bipolar but in this guy's case it was very, very much so, and he was verbally and emotionally abusive to my friend, his girlfriend.    So I can see how the person in the OP might be referring to that one specific person without implying all people without bipolar are "psycho".

And I can see what you mean, ViolinP.   While "depressed" can mean that someone's just feeling down about something, like missing a loved one or having a hard time getting a job, without being clinically depressed, I can see why you'd get annoyed when people use it for trivial things like the pop machine being out of the drink they wanted.
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violinp

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #62 on: March 19, 2013, 02:40:07 PM »
Years ago I knew a guy who was bipolar, the boyfriend of a good friend.  He made it well known that he was bipolar because he used it as an excuse for every jerky thing he did.   (much more than a jerk really but any stronger would wouldn't be allowed by the filter)

Now I've met other people who are bipolar who are very nice people since then so I know that being a complete jerk is NOT a part of being bipolar but in this guy's case it was very, very much so, and he was verbally and emotionally abusive to my friend, his girlfriend.    So I can see how the person in the OP might be referring to that one specific person without implying all people without bipolar are "psycho".

And I can see what you mean, ViolinP.  While "depressed" can mean that someone's just feeling down about something, like missing a loved one or having a hard time getting a job, without being clinically depressed, I can see why you'd get annoyed when people use it for trivial things like the pop machine being out of the drink they wanted.

And I am way more fine with that, because it could be closer to how the person actually feels. I pride myself on using the appropriate words to describe things, and so to use depressed for minor trials is irritating to me.
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #63 on: March 19, 2013, 02:49:07 PM »
The snarky and mean side of me would be tempted to say "Wow, you're depressed because the machine was out of Diet Coke?"

Course on the other hand if it had been a rotten day and they just lost their best friend, their job, significant other, and the car got wrecked after an accident, with the fault being the other guy who has no insurance and did a hit-n-run, and the machine not having their favorite soda was the last straw, I could see that. 

But I have known people who would say "I'm depressed!" Because they didn't get what they wanted.  ::)
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

Sharnita

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #64 on: March 19, 2013, 03:00:11 PM »
But they can be depressed. The economy can be depressed. We have depressions in the weatjer. Unless they are claiming clinical depression without diagnosis yheir usage is not proplatic. Correcting them is what should produce the eye roll.

LazyDaisy

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #65 on: March 19, 2013, 03:02:43 PM »
Unless you can hear what thoughts are going through a persons mind, there is no way to determine if their use of "I'm depressed" over a soda is hyperbole or not. Getting angry at them for saying it and trying to convince them that what they are feeling doesn't meet your criteria for depressed is just as bad as those that armchair diagnose mental illnesses in others. Depression isn't like a light switch -- all on or all off. There are many degrees of depression including milder forms that might not be as sever as "I can't get out of bed". That doesn't make them less valid. Depression really doesn't need a trigger event, it can just be a general feeling of sadness without a root cause, but that's difficult for people to accept so it's easier to assign a cause to whatever is in front of them, including something as insignificant as they were looking forward to a treat, and now they can't have it.
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violinp

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #66 on: March 19, 2013, 03:23:05 PM »
But they can be depressed. The economy can be depressed. We have depressions in the weatjer. Unless they are claiming clinical depression without diagnosis yheir usage is not proplatic. Correcting them is what should produce the eye roll.

Let me try to explain this in a less touchy manner: If I said, "I can literally feed a small village!" when I meant figuratively instead of literally, people would think I was silly or completely ignorant of the basic definition of that word (yes, in slang it can be used that way, but that doesn't make it correct). Economic and weather depressions allude to the mental illness, but they are not a person saying "I am depressed because of [insert trivial thing]." That's ridiculous and untrue.

Unless you can hear what thoughts are going through a persons mind, there is no way to determine if their use of "I'm depressed" over a soda is hyperbole or not. Getting angry at them for saying it and trying to convince them that what they are feeling doesn't meet your criteria for depressed is just as bad as those that armchair diagnose mental illnesses in others. Depression isn't like a light switch -- all on or all off. There are many degrees of depression including milder forms that might not be as sever as "I can't get out of bed". That doesn't make them less valid. Depression really doesn't need a trigger event, it can just be a general feeling of sadness without a root cause, but that's difficult for people to accept so it's easier to assign a cause to whatever is in front of them, including something as insignificant as they were looking forward to a treat, and now they can't have it.

I'm aware that there are different levels of depression, and that there is no root cause. I'm not always that depressed, but I can get that way. Feeling upset is almost the opposite of what I experience. Sure, I feel horrible, but mostly it's just numbness. I express emotion because I have to, not because I can, so to use the term to mean sad or upset boggles my mind.

It's also an incredibly interesting assumption that I go around being the PC police. I talk about these things with my family and people whom I trust; I don't go barging at people, chiding them for their incorrect usage. That would be horribly, horribly rude, and I would be the one worthy of chastisement. Just because I speak my mind to some extent in this forum doesn't mean that I lack a brain to mouth filter when I interact with people in person.
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TurtleDove

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #67 on: March 19, 2013, 03:23:35 PM »
But they can be depressed. The economy can be depressed. We have depressions in the weatjer. Unless they are claiming clinical depression without diagnosis yheir usage is not proplatic. Correcting them is what should produce the eye roll.

Agreed.  I think some posters are looking for offense in the colloquial language of others.  Yes, words mean things, but there is so much nuance to how someone speaks, and how words are commonly used and understood. I run with a crowd that understands sarcasm, subtleties, word puns, hyperbole for effect, etc.  Not all conversation is a dissertation that requires the use of exact dictionary definitions that  are certain to never offend anyone. 
« Last Edit: March 19, 2013, 03:25:59 PM by TurtleDove »

LadyL

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #68 on: March 19, 2013, 03:24:50 PM »
Unless you can hear what thoughts are going through a persons mind, there is no way to determine if their use of "I'm depressed" over a soda is hyperbole or not.

I think it gets dangerously close to language policing to dictate how and when people can use hyperbole. If I say "this weather is depressing" am I being hyperbolic? Actually a spate of recent dreary weather was leaving me feeling cranky and exhausted all the time, to the point where it actually was mild depression, which thankfully improved when I got a SAD lamp. But few people knew if my meaning was literal or not when I'd call the weather "depressing" and I wouldn't appreciate being called out for "lack of sensitivity" or something.

TurtleDove

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #69 on: March 19, 2013, 03:27:52 PM »
But few people knew if my meaning was literal or not when I'd call the weather "depressing" and I wouldn't appreciate being called out for "lack of sensitivity" or something.

Also, it is a completely "normal" thing to say, "wow, it's 8 degrees outside and it's late March - how depressing!"  It would shock me to learn that someone honestly believes that statement is meant to convey an actual diagnosis of mental illness.

JeanFromBNA

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #70 on: March 19, 2013, 03:35:28 PM »
I think the problem sometimes isn't the word being used but the context and the reason for using it.
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Words have great power, and should be chosen carefully.

Ideally this consideration would apply to the speaker and the listener.  It's important for the listener to consider the speaker and the context of the speech as it is to consult your own (general) personal experience.

But people and situations vary so much, that to expect such consideration at all times is unreasonable, IMO.  For example, when giving testimony, I consider each word and how I will say it before I answer a question that I've carefully evaluated.  When I'm with friends and we're trying to one-up each other with funny insults, it's a different set of standards.

OP, it seems that your standards and the speaker's standards are not the same.

violinp

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #71 on: March 19, 2013, 03:42:00 PM »
Unless you can hear what thoughts are going through a persons mind, there is no way to determine if their use of "I'm depressed" over a soda is hyperbole or not.

I think it gets dangerously close to language policing to dictate how and when people can use hyperbole. If I say "this weather is depressing" am I being hyperbolic? Actually a spate of recent dreary weather was leaving me feeling cranky and exhausted all the time, to the point where it actually was mild depression, which thankfully improved when I got a SAD lamp. But few people knew if my meaning was literal or not when I'd call the weather "depressing" and I wouldn't appreciate being called out for "lack of sensitivity" or something.

First, I'm glad that the SAD lamp helped you. That must have been a nasty experience.

Second, let me clarify: I object to people saying they themselves are depressed over a trivial matter. I know that the weather can and often does affect people's mood, even if they have not been diagnosed with depression, so I would not be irritated or upset about that.

Third, I only said that I am irritated when people use improper terms. I never said that I would call them out - that would be rude. My internal emotions are not necessarily what I show to others. I say what's on my mind here because I have no other conveyance of my thoughts than words.

If it were someone to whom I was close, I would say, "I understand what you mean by what you're saying, but I feel as if the condition I live with is trivialized when you speak about it in such a manner. I really would prefer you use another word to describe what you mean," and I would hope that someone to whom I was close would want to be kind to me and thus try to use language that is less offensive to me.
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Fleur

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #72 on: March 19, 2013, 03:42:24 PM »
But they can be depressed. The economy can be depressed. We have depressions in the weatjer. Unless they are claiming clinical depression without diagnosis yheir usage is not proplatic. Correcting them is what should produce the eye roll.

Agreed.  I think some posters are looking for offense in the colloquial language of others.  Yes, words mean things, but there is so much nuance to how someone speaks, and how words are commonly used and understood. I run with a crowd that understands sarcasm, subtleties, word puns, hyperbole for effect, etc.  Not all conversation is a dissertation that requires the use of exact dictionary definitions that  are certain to never offend anyone.

Yes, exactly. And I say this as someone who suffers from clinical depression.

LazyDaisy

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #73 on: March 19, 2013, 03:48:12 PM »
But they can be depressed. The economy can be depressed. We have depressions in the weatjer. Unless they are claiming clinical depression without diagnosis yheir usage is not proplatic. Correcting them is what should produce the eye roll.

Let me try to explain this in a less touchy manner: If I said, "I can literally feed a small village!" when I meant figuratively instead of literally, people would think I was silly or completely ignorant of the basic definition of that word (yes, in slang it can be used that way, but that doesn't make it correct). Economic and weather depressions allude to the mental illness, but they are not a person saying "I am depressed because of [insert trivial thing]." That's ridiculous and untrue.

Unless you can hear what thoughts are going through a persons mind, there is no way to determine if their use of "I'm depressed" over a soda is hyperbole or not. Getting angry at them for saying it and trying to convince them that what they are feeling doesn't meet your criteria for depressed is just as bad as those that armchair diagnose mental illnesses in others. Depression isn't like a light switch -- all on or all off. There are many degrees of depression including milder forms that might not be as sever as "I can't get out of bed". That doesn't make them less valid. Depression really doesn't need a trigger event, it can just be a general feeling of sadness without a root cause, but that's difficult for people to accept so it's easier to assign a cause to whatever is in front of them, including something as insignificant as they were looking forward to a treat, and now they can't have it.

I'm aware that there are different levels of depression, and that there is no root cause. I'm not always that depressed, but I can get that way. Feeling upset is almost the opposite of what I experience. Sure, I feel horrible, but mostly it's just numbness. I express emotion because I have to, not because I can, so to use the term to mean sad or upset boggles my mind.

It's also an incredibly interesting assumption that I go around being the PC police. I talk about these things with my family and people whom I trust; I don't go barging at people, chiding them for their incorrect usage. That would be horribly, horribly rude, and I would be the one worthy of chastisement. Just because I speak my mind to some extent in this forum doesn't mean that I lack a brain to mouth filter when I interact with people in person.

ViolinP I'm not trying to pick on you at all but this statement has brought us full circle to the original post. I think the OP was rude for chastising her coworker's use of a word. It sounds like the coworker is very distressed about her neighbor's behavior and instead of empathizing that it is difficult to be forced to deal with a person whose behavior is extremely off-putting, she gives a lecture about proper use of a word. No wonder everyone reacted badly. And instead of garnering sympathy or understanding for the mentally ill neighbor, it has probably made the coworker feel even more anger that her feelings aren't being given equal concern. I think mental illness is devastating and those who have been diagnosed should be treated with respect, understanding and patience, but please realize that it affects everyone around the person in ways totally unlike other diseases, and those people also need understanding, respect and patience too.
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JustEstelle

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Re: Derogatory terms about mental illness
« Reply #74 on: March 19, 2013, 04:46:53 PM »
OP here.  I am posting from my phone, so please bear with me.

To clarify, the discussion took place on another message board, so my reaction didn't occur immediately after her vent.  What I said to her was something like, "While I understand where you're coming from, I don't think it's fair to call her 'psycho.'"  What she'd said was, "My neighbor is psycho - she's bipolar and blah blah blah."  She started off calling the person "psycho," then qualifying with a diagnosis before she even got into the annoying behavior.

She has also since apologized for a poor choice of words.