My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Sometimes Your Choice of Language Offends Me

Published on Oct 30, 2014

At some point, you’ve probably heard someone use any or all of these four words to describe someone. But there’s a really excellent chance that person had no idea what these terms mean. But SciShow is here to help clear up some of these definitions, and explain why the weather isn’t schizophrenic, and how your ex probably isn’t actually a psychopath,” (SciShow).

I’m guilty of it myself. I’ve been known to blame my extreme organization on OCD or my occasional swearing on Tourette’s. However, my flippant use of this type of language can be really offensive. Think about it; if you’re feeling sick, do you say you have a touch of cancer?

In this video, Hank Green discusses four psychological terms we’re likely misusing, but the tendency to do this stretches into many (if not most) psychological terms. For some reason, we as a society feel it is acceptable to use mental illness and its clinical terms to illustrate a whole variety of points that often have nothing to do with the people suffering from these mental illnesses. This behaviour spreads misinformation about mental illness and alienates people suffering from these illnesses.

In my work as a teacher, I have made a conscious effort to not refer to people as their disease. I practice saying ‘a student with ADHD’, not a ‘hyperactive student’. As Green states, “It’s hard enough not to become your disease when your disease is inside your brain. It’s even worse when it’s inside everyone else’s.” I understand his point on a personal level and I make sure I don’t do this to other people. However, I am not quite as adept when I refer to myself. I have called myself ‘an anxious person’ rather than ‘a person suffering from anxiety’ and as I’ve stated above, I have called myself clinical terms that don’t apply to me to illustrate a point or make a joke.

I’m going to try to be much more conscious of my use of these terms. If we all use these terms correctly, it will go a long way to taking the stigma out of mental health. To help us all, I have included the and definitions of the terms Hank Green mentioned in his video.





And just in case you need it too, check out


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One thought on “Sometimes Your Choice of Language Offends Me

  1. Reblogged this on The Rouge Author and commented:
    I hear these terms all the time. I think correct language is extremely important when talking about disorders.

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