33 6

Is it still okay to use a mental health condition as an adjective?
For instance, I heard someone describe their family life as schizophrenic. She speaks her native tongue at home with her parents, follows those cultural traditions. But outside the house, it's English and whatever culture this country thinks it has.
I see people calling themselves or their actions bipolar but they don't have a diagnosis.
People love to use OCD as the descriptor when they are actually describing perfectionism.

If it is okay, then why don't we start using retarded to describe someone making a poor decision again?

Orly 5 Dec 16

Post a comment Reply Add Photo

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account


Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.


Are the Speech Police coming to either of your houses? Unless derogatory and directed to another, who cares?

Thank you!

Who cares is pretty obvious, right? Was that meant to be rhetorical? Because I asked the question, so obviously I do. You responded, with who cares, but you still responded, so you care at least enough to make the effort to shit on someone's post.

Unfortunately, most people can hear things that might not be directed at them, if they are in close enough proximity.

@Orly worrying about how others use words, unless in a nasty way, is just too control-freaky to me, Your response is quite enlightening.......

Some of us actually do care about others. Clearly you don't.

@heymoe2001 everyone has an opinion....yours, and your ASSumptions, are just charming.....


It might be OK but I don’t like it. I also don’t like it when a person is labeled as as “a schizophrenic”, as though that condition defined their existence. “She has schizophrenia” would be better.


You make a good point. People without diagnosed conditions might not realize how using those words sound to someone who is suffering from them. This is a good reminder to live with empathy for others.

dayII Level 6 Dec 16, 2019

People who like to use those terms could be seen as uncaring and intellectually lazy. There are far better terms to use for a busy, disorganized life, being abnormally clean, or even ineffective in function or thought. But people use words that cause pain to innocent people as a way to offend others. Those people are lacking a proficient vocabulary.

Cheri Level 5 Dec 16, 2019

Or care, but yes, totally 🙂


My daughter--in-law say I have OCD because I don't like untidiness and messy home. I honestly will not refer to neatness and wanting to have a clean home OCD. Who's going to do it if I don't maintain it or get someone to assist me to maintain it.


"Everyone knows you have OCD, Mom," my daughter said rudely when she was a teenager. On weekends, Claire rolled in at midnight and made something to eat before bed. She left a horrendous mess: dirty dishes and pans, and spilled food on the table, counters and sink. Not a drop of water to soak the dishes.

In the morning, I love walking into a clean kitchen. Clean surfaces are calming. I always clean up the kitchen before bed.

Claire's mess in the kitchen incensed me. When I complained, she called me "OCD." Grrrr...."Don't blame me for your behavior!" I replied. "I expect you to clean up after yourself."''

I laughed when Claire got a dog at 19. While he was teething, Cocoa chewed Claire's boots, shoes and clothes on the floor. This forced Claire to put everything away. Now she's neat and clean like me.

@LiterateHiker my older son could cook, clean and put his clothes in the washing machine. My younger son is 20 and still not doing any of this.

Both Clair and dog are cuties 🤗


It is not OK and it has never been, but it would be hard to rule on how people speaks with those adjectives. They use words like idiot, imbecile, crazy, moron, stupid, psycho, retarded, mental and the recent very popular and subtle way of saying the same with the sound "DUH", which I hate. Some people still use sexual preferences as a way of insulting or mocking. Unfortunately people that uses lots of insults in their daily talking are those who care the less about offending and making others feel bad...

at least some of those that were current in our childhood are gone now - 'spastic' for instance, 'cripple' etc.


Plenty of people do use the word retarded. I hear it all the time here in the Midwest. Which I happen to think is very appropriate given this is Trump country, but I personally don't use that word.


Because it's not a medical condition

What isn't a medical condition? I'm confused what you are referring to.

@Orly old term trying to describe a genetic condition(downs syndrome) back before genetic testing was available, it is inaccurate and prejudicial often a slur


"Retarded" is not a mental health issue. Mental health issues "includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act." People who have intellectual disabilities--those whom you might refer to as "retarded"--have cognitive impairments that have nothing to do with mental health.

Making poor decisions has nothing to do with being intellectually disabled/retarded.

Using "retarded" as a pejorative is an insult to intellectually challenged people. Those born with Down Syndrome and other disorders have done nothing to deserve being so insulted.

Using "schizophrenic" incorrectly to describe such an incident that you give is not a pejorative. Claiming to be bipolar or OCD does not mean that the person is claiming to be "defective," but is rationalizing behavior.


My point was that using a condition someone didn't choose as an adjective to describe something/someone in a poor light is shitty.
The part about calling people retarded was irony. If it's cool to throw diagnoses (that can make life extremely difficult at times and seem to be used to injure/other/minimalize people) then let's just start tossing around whatever we want to say.

@Orly Perhaps your point should be more clearly stated--the irony was not apparent and the analogy was faulty.

@Gwendolyn2018 you're right, I really should have taken a step back and waited until I was speaking from a rational mindframe. Instead I let emotions control the response.
I apologise for the tone, I'm trying not to be a "we'll burn that bridge when we get there" type of person. It's hard to reframe 40+ years of anger at everything.


Common insults used when I was school were “You’re mental” “spacko” and “nutter”

It’s only when you get older you realise how these vernacular words are actually REALLY insulting.


No, it isn't okay. done and done


I tend to avoid it, myself. I might use "crazy" or "nuts" or "insane" but that's about the limit of it. And having been called retarded due to simply having Aspergers, I know how it feels sooooo....that's also a no-go for me. HOWEVER, I am not the language police.All I think I or anyone can ask is that you think before you speak and that's really the best anyone can do.

I am the language police. Calling people "retarded" as an insult is no different from other types of slurs. I am sorry that you experienced this.

@Gwendolyn2018 It's all good. Lucky I had a family and a load of friends that would back me up.

@JayOleck38 I am glad that you have a strong support group--that makes a world of difference.


I regularly say that I "had an autistic moment" but I am Autistic so.....

As a Qualified Psychologist I'd state that EVERY person on this planet has some inherent level, varied as it may be, within them.

@Triphid I wouldn't dispute that. Especially now that they've crammed what seems like half of the DSM into the spectrum.


You're right.

Behavior is on a spectrum, from one extreme to the other. Most people fall somewhere in between.

@LiterateHiker And as one with a 'mental illness' I know I'm normal, it's everyone else that I worry about....LOL.


I don't see how the comment preceding your last paragraph in any way is a premise for the question. I don't understand how speaking their native tounge in the home and speaking english when interacting with people who speak english is schizophrenic (something tells me the person you heard was speaking tounge-in-cheek).

There is also the fact that in your first few sentences, you are referencing what people are calling themselves and their family, not what someone else is calling their friends and family. In addition "schizophrenic" and "OCD" are actual mental disorders defined in the medical community where "retarded" is not.


People do use the r-word far too often. They say the meaning has changed. It hasn't. And using the words you described is also inappropriate.
When I hear someone use that sort of language I try to explain that using one person's diagnosis to insult another is suggesting both are worthy of ridicule. It is unfair.
I ask if they would ever say a bald guy has a chemo-do. Or if they would call a thin person an Auschwitz Survivor.
Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don't. If they don't, I use their name as an insult every chance I get.
"Geez, Terry, could you stop being so frickin' Bob?!" "OMG, that is such a Bob thing to do." "Son-of-a-Bob"


You have the right to offend, and to be offended. That is the risk we all take when we participate in civilization. Those who feel the need to be shielded from offensive language really need to understand the importance of emotional durability. It's a consequence of self-esteem.

How fortunate we are to live in societies where freedom of expression is something of a guarantee. How unfortunate it is that some of us ignorantly take it for granted while on the same planet other people in other places are forcefully denied it.

Decorum and politeness, on the other hand, are still worthy enterprises.

a well thought out response but it doesn't answer the question.

"do I have the right" and "is it okay" are two different questions, which you yourself acknowledge with the last sentence.

@HereticSin You are correct, they are two different ideas, and my desire to specify clearly the difference between the two was intentional. I'd give you a medal for pedantic rigor if I had one. 😉

@Shawno1972 thanks for the response. I have trouble with subtlety sometimes, given the extra info your comment has a lot more flavor!

@HereticSin S'ok, a bludgeoned approach works better for me anyway. 😀 I'm always down for a good-natured sparring of words.


It is not okay. Unfortunately, it becomes a joke when countered.

I went to a This is My Brave show and a girl having bipolar disorder said, "My friend said her mom is bipolar. First she said i could go to the party, but when she found out i was failing math, she said i couldn't. That is action & consequence. Not bipolar." She went on to express her frustration with her body and brain, exploring and revealing how the disorder affects her life.

I am diagnosed with bipolar as well as other things. I am suffering from those as well as other undiagnosed mental illness. I have tried to be open about what i experience (although it embarrasses my mother and amuses people with whom i chat).

If i sat with friends to eat and said, "no thank you, i'm feeling diabetic today." when dessert was offered, no one would laugh. They might even suggest i need help understanding the disorder of not producing insulin to help digest. I hope my friends would say, " you can't FEEL diabetic unless you have diabetes."

I tried to ease my family into the idea of accepting my openness about my broken brain. (Please don't tell me its not broken. It does not work as it should and i need to figure out how to limp along with it, just as with a broken leg) So i started saying, "i have a serotonin deficiency (which is true) and so i need this medication and i'm seeing a doctor regularly. That grew into more and more openness about my mental illness. I know it remains an uncomfortable topic. I don't care. Keeping it in perspective that i'm treating an illness that i need not be ashamed for coping with.

In short. No No No. Please stop saying you're OCD if you just like a clean house. Stop saying you are bipolar if you just change your mind. Stop saying you're depressed if you are sad because of something temporary. Stop saying you have anxiety if you're just nervous about taking your driving test..... And so on, and so on.

I agree with you on all but one point. One can be depressed and not suffer from depression. Most of us are depressed at some point in our lives. It is NOT comparable to depression.
The rest is spot on. I like the diabetic comment. Above is an example of my comparisons.


Now, my older brother is bipolar, which corresponds to having a chemical unbalance in the brain. My father committed suicide, we only know that he was taking medicine, a breakdown, in the least. What's the problem about speaking about mental health? Myself I'm a bit paranoid and I admit it here in public. Schizophrenia is a very vague definition for many of mental illnesses/issues. It's something to be addressed as well and hiding our heads in the sand doesn't solve anything.


This is called ableism, marginalization of a handicap. In the long term you are talking about restructuring society and the terms used.. This is the issue that i parted with the ACA the Atheist Community of Austin over. They put on the popular television program The Atheist Experience on local community programming and Youtube..
I think it is ridiculous to demand that people suddenly change their whole structure of speech and the terms they use because some small minority feels it may marginalize someone, somewhere, with some unknown handicap... In other words if i call something or someone stupid i'm not going to worry that somewhere out there it may have offended someone with a mental illness...

You know those people? 😮 I ran across them on YouTube not very long ago. I'll say this: from what I watched, they're "atheistic experience" is a very limited scope/worldview. But that's just me.

@SeaGreenEyez Yes i know them, and well they have gone overboard on many things unrelated to god belief/unbelief. They are very well known and the show is a great show but they have embraced this hard militant left agenda. Mostly the show is theists calling in to present their case. Matt Dillahunty and Aron Ra being the two most well known and active within the Atheist community that are connected to the ACA.

@JohnnyQB I know the show. I can promise, they don't speak for the far left. The Progressive (far left) movement wouldn't waste time on what they bother with. 🙂

@SeaGreenEyez Well that is your take on it, i know them personally so... The far left is a vile weed.. Have a nice evening

@SeaGreenEyez but now i'm curious, you ran across them on youtube not very long ago.. Do you mean the program ? What could it be that you saw as a limited scope and worldview ? I just assumed it was their embrace of people that drop down in the middle of traffic demanding everyone stop their lives to listen to them scream in the air ..

@SeaGreenEyez But as far as the people on the show they are very well respected and famous within the atheist community. Giving many lectures and hosting debates all over the planet...

@JohnnyQB No. I found their programming very limited in substance matter compared to more mainstream atheist channels. All they do is give their own opinions on how religion, usually theism/Christianity is absurd, wrong, stupid, illegitimate, etc. The odd near-obsession with near-death experiences turned me off more than the drama with Christian callers. Personally, I didn't feel the channel was the least bit controversial, educational, insightful or even entertaining.

@SeaGreenEyez The odd weird obsession with near death ....... I have no clue what you are talking about there. I have been involved with the show for ten years.....
And all the rest of what you are saying you got from discovering it not long ago .. Ok.
The show is this, you must have caught an odd one or two, but the show consists of theists calling in and giving their perspective or proofs of god.. That is basically it.

@SeaGreenEyez I think most talk show hosts no matter the subject are giving their personal opinion. What other opinion could they give on the subject of gods ?

@SeaGreenEyez and by the way, the AXP on Youtube has over 306,000 subscribers. So many seem to think it is at least entertaining..


300K subscribers is not a lot and given that most of that channel's videos, (most not all) have less than 10K views, viewership is nominal.

Given that you seem to detest their views, based upon your first comment here, you sure are defensive on their behalf. Why I'm not certain, but whatever.

The channels I prefer have millions of subscribers, they are content rich and don't sit on air pissing and moaning with theists.

You can have this love/hate relationship with them and I simply won't indulge. It isn't something that should bother you.

If you do figure out their obsession with near death, please do update. It's curious, for sure.

@SeaGreenEyez you seem to have your own personal reality..... love hate relationship that bothers me ?
i detest their views ?
i'm defensive on their behalf ?
If i figure out their obsession with near death ?

WOW ............ First off you don't anything about the people or the program. I'm sorry but discovering it not long ago nullifies your expertise on it.

''This is the issue that i parted with the ACA the Atheist Community of Austin over.''
This^^ comment tells you that i detest their views..... that is simple delusion for you to claim that. And it is in writting, but you some how warped what i said into my detesting their views ...
The channels you prefer huh. You don't even know who these very famous people are but are telling me there are channels with millions of subscribers ... I'd like to see these please so i can check this out.
And i'm sorry but your immediate rewality is screwed up.. I'm looking at video after video of over 300,000 to 1,000,000+ views on every one of them ha ha..... OH MY GOD !!! HA HA HA

Please please tell me of these other channels that are so much more viewed with a million subscribers ... Please show me

@SeaGreenEyez quibbling with me about what ''a lot'' is ...... How ridiculous... 300,000 subscibers is a lot ...............
Their videos barely have over 10,000 views...... That is the most ignorant of all the comments you have made

@SeaGreenEyez now all i want is for you to give me the names of the other atheist shows on youtube with these millions of subscibers...........
What you are taking as me defending the program is my lust for accuracy... Whether it benefits me or not, and about the show you know absolutely nothing.. It's almost like you have a personal beef with it ..... I do not care about the program in the least, i care about the truth. And you don't have it

@SeaGreenEyez and you apparently have not been listening , my interest in the show and the people is because i have been and am involved with it and them ..... WOW , HA HA

@SeaGreenEyez I'm through dealing with idiocy... You human beings are a screwed up race let me tell you ....... Goodbye, i won't be seeing your guff anymore

@SeaGreenEyez I would be interested in your favorite atheist channels. I'm always looking for more content.


I think it is a "know your audience" type thing - not even an age or culture thing.

I have friends that appreciate offensive language and concepts - let the private Roasts commence. But generally, I try to be sensitive to those around me. I don't swear in a church and I don't pray in a pub.

I was about to type "let's not get hysterical", but the word 'hysterical' would fall right into that category the OP is asking about. Sheesh and Balderdash!


I have a diagnosed stress disorder, but then I don't get too bothered when people say, "Man, I have PTSD from this Christmas shopping" or something along those lines. So... take it for what it's worth... one can understand that everyone uses terms they don't really understand.

I also have PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Intermittent explosive disorder and oppositional defiance. I am not personally hurt when folks use those as descriptors around me because I have done a lot of work getting a handle on those conditions.

My point is that, in public, tossing these terms around carelessly can hurt people, it doesn't matter if you do it intentionally or not, someone got hurt. If you drop a bottle and the glass shatters, you clean it up. Why? You didn't intentionally drop it, but you are still responsible if you don't clean it up and someone gets hurt. All I am asking is try to clean it up. Don't say stuff carelessly.


Maybe these people who are describing their personal situation are trying to get a grip on it. It is true that nothing can be changed until we can name it. But, I see a downside to constantly repeating the same old story, that would appear that a person is stuck and unable to move forward.
We need to define ourselves by what we want our life to mean in our own eyes. Sure, we all came from ‘some place’ and sure many of us were ‘shortchanged,’ but, that is not who we are, that is just a challenge that a lot of us were faced with. How are we spending our days grow into our best selves? Something that we feel represents what we live for and feel good about...that no one else will ever fully be witness too! And, for the rest of us, who must be with people who have not ‘found themselves,’ we must not get hooked into their ‘stories’ and try and force them to come to their ‘senses’...instead we need to be ‘present’ and patient and let what little good we can offer be it! Every human has another piece of life’s puzzle. We need to remember that.


Schizophrenia tends to be a blanket diagnosis, retard is totally outdated, the New York Times described it as such years ago: []
My sister in law laughs about having ocd, but hasn’t. If she gets to, ‘As Good As It Gets’ levels I might start taking her seriously.
People not being respectful are the reason that others feel unable to be honest and open about their differences, or feel that they’ll get equal or fair treatment. If that’s the world you like I guess you’ll stick with it. I’d like something more inclusive and understanding myself.


It is up to the person as to how they describe himself or herself and his or her family.


I know what you mean, but using a specific descriptor in common speech that is the name of a condition, is very different to using 'retarded' which is derived from the word meaning 'behind the [rest/times/curve etc.]' and cannot but be insulting - it's not a diagnosis at all.

It's not, though. It is still using one person's diagnosis as an insult for another person. It suggests the person with the diagnosis is worthy of ridicule or that being in any way like the person with the diagnosis is a bad thing.

@heymoe2001 yes, but in a different degree. Rather of course we not use any insults but I doubt that's likely...

Write Comment
You can include a link to this post in your posts and comments by including the text q:438814
Agnostic does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content. Read full disclaimer.