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Lunatics Unite!

Someone used a word the other day that I hadn’t heard in quite a while.  The word was “lunatic.” 

 The dictionary reads:

 Lunatic” is an informal term referring to people who are considered mentally ill, dangerous, foolish or unpredictable; conditions once called lunacy. The term may be considered insulting in serious contexts, though is sometimes used in friendly jest. The word derives from lunaticus meaning “of the moon” or “moonstruck”.

 Synonyms for lunatic include, balmy, bats, batty, bonkers, brainsick, certifiable, cracked, crackpot, crazed, crazy, cuckoo, daft, demented, deranged, fruity, haywire, kooky, loony, insane, mad, maniacal, mental, nuts, nutty, psycho, psychotic, screwy, unbalanced, unhinged, unsound, wacko, wacky,

 See what we are up against when we try to fight the stigma aimed at brain illnesses? 

 And lists like this make me wonder where is the line drawn between good humor and over the line? 

 Or am I just crazy when I think things like that? 

 – Bernadette

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3 Responses

  1. This is such an interesting question. I suspect tone and context will always be important to the potential effects of a word’s use. That said, I do worry about words like ‘psychotic’, and other more clinical sounding terms. When it comes to terms like ‘crazy’ or ‘loony’, etc, I feel like they’ve been rather divorced from mental health; but this is based only on subjective experience, rather than a considered survey of usage. With respect to clinical terms, I think that’s where more of the danger lies. When ‘psychotic’, for instance, is used to describe (as it often is) a morally reprehensible person and his/her actions, it quite wrongly casts shame over all those who suffer from psychosis (which, of course, in fact refers to a loss of contact from reality).

    Thanks for your thought-provoking post!

  2. as mental health advocates, it’s definitely something to think about and be sensitive to, at the same time we have to balance our sensitivity with realism and context. I agree whole heartedly with Shyane. It depends on the situation. But in order to fight the stigma of mental illness, I do think society, in general, needs to be MORE sensitive that it is now!

  3. Honestly I don’t like the term Mental illness, Mental has such attachments to it, Maybe cerebral illness would be better.

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