Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Stigma and Labels: Media's Appropriation of 'Schizophrenic' and 'Schizophrenia' to Insult People

It happens so often that I decided to keep a running tally each time I see media using the terms schizophrenic or schizophrenia as an insult. Please note, none of these things are actually schizophrenic, rather they're being labeled that as a put-down. Read more in my post: When Did Schizophrenic Suddenly Mean 'Nonsensical' or 'Self-Contradictory'?
  • Brookings Institute: "Debt Ceiling Drives Schizophrenic Treasury Market"
  • Bloomberg: "German Energy Plan ‘Schizophrenic’ as Coal Beats Gas, Greens Say"
  • "Schizophrenic Stock Market Begs for Caution" on Wall Street Sector Selector
  • BusinessDay: "The DA's communications schizophrenia"
  • "Young Singles Have Schizophrenic View of Love, Says Megachurch Pastor"
  • "Schizophrenic Goldman Sachs On Gold" on Seeking Alpha
  • "Silicon Sees Schizophrenia Forecast" in EET Times
  • "Beirut's schizophrenic identity" on Open Democracy
  • "John McCain Calls Fox News 'A Bit Schizophrenic' On Immigration" on Huffington Post
  • "Schizophrenic market conditions zap Trulia's 'Housing Barometer'" on inman News
  • "The European Non-Recovery and Media Schizophrenia" on ValueWalk
  • "Expect Schizophrenic Reaction to Jobs Report: Gartman" published on CNBC
  • "Volkswagen Uses Sinatra's 'My Way' to Great Effect in Schizophrenic New Ad Beating the odds in Vegas" by David Gianatasio on AdWeek
  • "See If You Can Follow America's Schizophrenic Positions on Mohamed Morsy" by John Hudson on Foreign Policy
  • "Supreme Court Schizophrenia" by Allan Goldstein on OpEdNews
  • "Australia's recent schizophrenic approach hurting them" on Cricbuzz 
  • Movie Review of an Indian Film: "Schizophrenic and Wildly Flawed" by By R. M. Vijayakar on to India-West
  • "Can Vendor Management Cure IT Schizophrenia? Maybe." on Spend Matters
Schizophrenia is an incurable illness that affects 1 percent of population. Schizophrenic does not mean nonsensical, unpleasant, self-contradictory, antagonistic, incomprehensible, unintelligent or laughable. To use it to mean those things is an antiquated, uninformed, and wholly insulting practice. Even a cursory understanding of the disease would discourage this misuse. While there are other illnesses and conditions that also include delusions, hallucinations and difficulty telling the different between real and unreal, perhaps the best thing for writers around the world to do is simply say what they mean rather than stereotype.

Merriam-Webster attributes it to 78-year-old journalist Elizabeth Drew. If that is the case, I'm sure as the author of 13 books she could come up a more apt term. 


Anonymous said...

I saw a movie poster of an upcoming horror film called Schizo. This was maybe the 3rd or 4th time since my brother's diagnosis that I remembering feeling so incensed, and so sad at the same time just trying to imagine how he must feel encountering this kind of stigma.

Sarah Rae said...
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