Friday, March 25, 2016

Words mean things: Rant about diagnostic words

This is a rare post for me: one where I talk mostly about the mental health world that occupies most of my time. I tend to prefer to leave my bookish side separate. But this post is a rant about words, that happens to overlap with the other stuff.

I know that it's totally in fashion with The Youth to use extreme language. Everything is "the worst" or "the best" and you "love" everyone and you'd "rather die." Blah blah.

The words that really irk me are those that people use because they think they know what they mean but it's my job to really understand what they actually mean. Then I have to talk to them about why what they are describing is NOT actually what they are calling it... and then convince them to take action to make some sort of change in their lives.Not surprising, then, most of these words are mental health related.

Words I wish would fall out of mainstream usage:

Addictive: Basically, this now means that you  really really like something. It also implies that you feel that you are unable to stop doing something easily. It no longer means that you might actually go into a coma when you cease entering something into your body system. I rarely use this word for anything except substance abuse situations. And while we are on the subject, everything you do has some relation to a change in your brain, it's structure, and chemistry.

Bullying: This now means that someone said or did something that hurt your feelings and you didn't like it. It likely means that you didn't think there was anything you could do about that, whether you tried something or not. I only use this word when there have been repeated and targeted instances of hurt feelings or bodies by someone who holds more power than the other person.

Bipolar: This now means moody, which everyone is sometimes, especially children and teens. I only use this word when I am diagnosing someone with an actual mental illness marked by extreme moods and other related thoughts, feelings and behaviors that impact functioning at an extreme level. I rarely use it in relation to children and teens.

Obsessive (and obsessive-compulsive): Now means, likes to be organized and/ or is not a slob.

ADHD, ADD and being a "little bit ADHD:" This now means that you are distracted, flakey, or scatterbrained. May also mean hyper but rarely.

I'm not even going to mention the words "multiple personalities," schizophrenic, and paranoid.

I suspect that the use of these words by everyone and their Psych-101 uncle has resulted in a similar response in me as waiters have when someone says they are "gluten- intolerant." Yes, some people are gluten- intolerant. However, every person who has walked in here acting righteous and picky has basically ruined my belief that anyone ever actually has Celiac's disease. Just eat it. You're fine.
::bowels explode::

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