This morning, I read an interesting article about the brain. It was published in a non-peer reviewed resource. The author of the article used the term schizophrenics, a word that has made me cringe as an occupational therapist (OT) since I decided to practice in the field of mental health. People with schizophrenia would have been preferred language. Words can be incredibly powerful. Think of the N word or C word that thankfully many people now find offensive. Their use in our communications has significantly decreased over the years.
A person who has cancer might be a worker, daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend, investor, runner, gardener, cook, and dog groomer. Those are some examples of roles. In the medical community no one uses a term such as canceric to describe a person or group of people with this diagnosis. Equally, our culture, including the media, needs to stop using the term, schizophrenics. It’s disrespectful to refer to a person by a diagnosis as though it summarizes the individual. An accident, unfortunate event, or diagnosis does not define who a person is, but a role does.