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Stigmatizing Synonyms for Mental Illness

Posted on April 25, 2015 in Mental Illness Stigma Vocabulary

square869I started this list in my head just before I took an afternoon nap. The urge to complete it was so strong that I dreamed additions to it. I do not pretend that it is the last word on the subject nor do I endorse the acceptability of most of them, but I have taken several days to compile it. If you want a list of stigma terms, this should be a good start.

ADD* anal anal retentive apeshit
attention seeking nutters ax murderer barking (mad) barmy
bats in the belfry batty berzerk bipolar*
bipolar bitch bonkers borderline* breakdown
broken circus freak compliant*** consumer****
conspiracy theorist control freak cracked crackers
crackpot crazy pills creep creepster
creepy daft dangerous delusional
demented deranged dim dingy
dippy drama queen emo erratic
evil few fries short of a happy meal flaky flipped out
fool freak freak out going darth
going postal gone happy pills have a screw loose
hysterical insane intense kook
lazy looney looney bin looney tunes
loopy loose penny loser lost in space
lunatic mad mad as a hatter mad as a March hare
mad(wo)man maniac mental mentalist
mental health**** monster moody moonstruck
noncompliant*** nut nutcase nutjob
nuts nutter nutty nutty as a fruit cake
obsessed OCD off the deep end of unsound mind
nutty nutty as a fruit cake out of it out of his/her mind
out of his/her tree out to lunch pedo potty
psycho rageaholic retard roller coaster rider
round the bend scarey schizo screwball
screwed up screwy slut space cadet
spaced out spacey stalker tetched
touched treatment resistant*** unbalanced unglued
unhinged unzipped wack job wacky
weird weirdo wingnut** zombie
zombie zombie meds zoned out

Notice how many of these terms also suggest stupidity (e.g. flaky, a few fries short of a happy meal, etc.) or declare our madness a character flaw (e.g. evil, lazy).

British politicians came to an agreement not to use phrases that were perjorative towards the mentally ill in their campaigns. Why not come up with a list similar to this and ask that American political parties honor the same list?


*Flippant use of these words to describe behaviors or individuals who are not diagnosed with the illness demeans those who are. Mental illness is not a joke. Just because she’s mad at you doesn’t mean she’s “bipolar”. Just because he wants to spend a little time getting his room clean doesn’t mean he is OCD. A typo doesn’t make her ADD. Stop using our diagnoses as insults or wit. These illnesses wreck our lives.

**This is used to imply that certain RW extremists border on insanity. This blindly insults them and it also tars people who do not want to be associated with their politics.

***Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals label us with jargon that can suggest that we are willful or stubborn about taking our meds or sticking to our treatment.

****These are terms which the therapy community tries to foist on us in an effort to prompt us not to think of ourselves as sick. Instead of promoting wellness, the tactic leads to denial and an unwillingness to face the symptoms that afflict us and make the lives of those we love difficult. They also imply that we are somehow to blame for our disease by failing to see it in the best possible light. Studies show that positive thinking has no more efficacy in the treatment of mental illness than pessimism; we need to replace it with realism.

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