Stop Using, “Schizophrenics”

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.

2 Comments to "Stop Using, “Schizophrenics”"

  • Marlene Robbins
    September 10, 2013 at 4:07 PM #

    I totally agree and feel the same way about calling people “hoarders.” To diminish a person’s identity for the sake of our own verbal ease or expediency is the opposite of healthcare.

  • M Terry Bowman
    September 11, 2013 at 8:58 AM #

    Appreciate your comment, Marlene. Thank you.

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