Illustration for article titled Avoid using these trigger phrases to describe peoplePhoto: Master1305 (Shutterstock)

Being labeled “crazy” is just for making you feel crazy. It is already a loaded term – an insensitive term for someone prone to riotous outbursts or violent behavior – but it is often used to describe someone who may not be conventionally “normal” behavior.

It is one of those words that we use too lightly, and it fits in with other insensitive, once ubiquitous terms that are now considered to be derelict (including “the R word”). Calling someone crazy may not be a big deal, but the word can be harmful, as comedian Dave Chappelle pointed out in a 2006 interview with Inside The Actors Studio. During the interview, he became noticeably frustrated talking about the idea of ​​labeling others as crazy, which was due to having escaped the limelight after a trip to Africa to gain media control over Chappelles’ success Withdraw show.

It seemed like a radical idea at the time, but Chappelle – for which there is no shortage of legitimate criticism his own problematic comments on the transgender community– was on something. And the feeling only picked up pace as social mores generally evolved to be less humiliating to people who struggle.

It goes way beyond labeling people as “crazy”: there are many other phrases that you should pick out of your vocabulary – with your co-workers and beyond – that other people could trigger, regardless of your own intentions to use them use.

Illustration for article titled Avoid using these trigger phrases to describe people

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Calling someone “crazy” or “crazy”

The idea of ​​being “crazy” or “insane” is inherently dismissive as it doesn’t even scratch the surface of what may be making the person sick. Being labeled insane reinforces a stigma suggesting that the person fighting is weak and somehow not living up to the standards of normality.

As Brenda Curtis, professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Pennsylvania University, explains in 2018:

“One of the most common stereotypes about mental health and substance use disorders is the idea of ​​moral failure. A lot of people will think, “Oh, they’re just sad, get over it” or, “Oh, if you don’t want to do drugs just stop, no one made you do it.”

It is also an insult that is mostly hurled at women. Most of the time, it’s a word that’s pulled out To describe women, and often used by men– which are notorious Pressure seals of suppressed emotions. If a friend or co-worker is acting in a way that you find uncomfortable or bothersome, find an accurate way to talk to them about it. Don’t call her crazy.

Suggesting someone is “on the spectrum”

Comparing a person’s social tics or awkwardness with autism is similarly insensitive. In one fell swoop, you managed to play chair psychologist and paint the wide range of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder with a single brush at the same time. Again, comparing the perceived lack of communication with autism means whitewashing the more general circumstances they might be suffering from, whether or not autism is one of them.

There is a very specific list of symptoms that people with ASD and related disorders experience, such as: Asperger syndrome. You need to know what you are talking about before making this type of claim. If you use it casually, you are doing the person you are talking about and autistic people everywhere.

Illustration for article titled Avoid using these trigger phrases to describe people

Name your decent colleague “OCD”

Similar to ASD, you should never reduce a debilitating state to a verbal trifle. People who are extremely organized, tidy, and clean are often sent to a camp by others who observe behavior at the surface level and extrapolate larger judgments from there. Avoid using funky expressions that serve as overarching diagnoses for people who may be more focused on organization or neatness that you consider normal. Even if the person concerned doesn’t mind or uses it to describe their own behavior, it can harm someone who is genuinely suffering from the disease by making it seem like a simple nuisance.

In reality, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mentally distressing illness that is at war with one’s emotional state. As Lisa Whittington-Mill recently wrote about her struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder::

If the voice in my head isn’t telling me to check the stove repeatedly to make sure it’s turned off or my apartment catches fire, the voice is telling me that I’m imperfect – I’m a failure for not having it can silence. So I push myself to work harder, do better, and achieve more. I am so disappointed with myself that I channel that frustration into a near-impossible level of perfectionism. Stress only makes it worse. When there are things that I cannot control, I focus on my compulsions – which sometimes feel like what I can control.

Calling a thin person “anorexic” or “bulimic”

This is perhaps the most obvious example, but a discussion of a person’s body in these terms (private or otherwise) should never be conducted. Around 20 million women and 10 million men You will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in your life and fight against psychologically and physically harmful urges. Saying that everyone you consider to be underweight has an eating disorder creates a stigma of mental instability in the person you are referring to – someone who might very well and need not have body dysmorphism or an eating disorder Hear any judgments about it from you.

These terms – and many others that you could pronounce without a thought every day – should be easy to remove from your vocabulary as there are many ways to express yourself without demonizing or belittling a group of already marginalized people.