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Sunday, January 13, 2013


A funny thing happened, which I must record.

Last week I wrote a piece for a newspaper with psychiatrists as the intended readers. I suggested a title of "infectious insanity," which, I admit, was a bit tongue in cheek. I was informed that the editor would never allow such irreverence. Apparently, the field of psychiatry is squeamish about words like insane or mad.

Of course, psychiatrists have reasons to artificially restrict their vocabulary, just like lawyers and computer programmers have their own. To a writer, however, the self-imposed limitation seems amusing.

The underlying assumption is that, by controlling and changing public vocabulary, one can manipulate how people think. This theory is undoubtedly widely held by not only psychiatrists. For governments and other propagandists, I think the effect of language manipulation has long been proven.

Nevertheless, it's ironic that psychiatrists should be as tight-assed and stiff-upper-lipped as the office of propaganda. What is a better means to loosen people's fear and hatred (in another word, "stigma") of lunacy? To illustrate and convince them that insanity is but a disease and has nothing to do with morality? Or to subliminally distance the thought of mental illness from a negative instinct or feeling?

Of all people, one would expect psychiatrists to have more courage than the average Joe to stare the truth in the face and not fear words or feeling and to have more sense than to exact change through avoidance and suppression. At least, that is the theory. Reality, however, is no theory. 


Mark said...

Interesting. Cathy respects you and she likes a good argument. But it may have come from somewhere "higher up"!

Jun said...

Thanks, Mark. The discomfort is from psychiatrists, of course. :) I can understand it and am not put off by it. I just want to document the irony, which is interesting and can potentially be used in the future for fiction.

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