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Big disclaimer RE the alternatives to ableist language thread that I def shouldn't have assumed goes without saying: I'm giving examples of alternative words not just for people to swap them like for like. It's intended as a tool to enable people to criticise harmful behaviour +
Without suggesting that mental illnesses or disabilities are inherent flaws or personality deficiencies. However, just changing your language isn't enough by itself - the reason that the use of certain language is harmful is it creates the societal mindset that MIs/disabilities +
Mean that someone is inherently flawed in some way. But if, instead of using "borderline" as an insult, you insult someone by straight up listing all the symptoms of BPD, you're still participating in that mindset, just in an obfuscated way. People absolutely are within +
Their rights to criticise people who are exhibiting harmful behaviours, whether or not that behaviour is a result of a mental illness, because ofc mental illness isn't an excuse for harming others. And we shouldn't feel like we can't criticise people for things that can be +
Symptoms of mental illness. But we do need to be mindful of the way we're doing this - are you criticising this person because they're hurting people with their behaviour (i.e. Someone who is behaving obsessively about an ex after a breakup in a way that's unhealthy either to +
Themselves or to others, like it's preventing them moving on or resulting in them violating their ex's boundaries) or are you talking like anyone who exhibits obsessiveness, regardless of its impact, is morally deficient? Are you criticising a person for their actions, or for +
The fact they're mentally ill/are engaging in behaviours that resemble a mentally ill person's symptoms?

There's definitely an issue at play here that results from largely neurotypical psychologists naming symptoms and disorders using words that already inherently have +
Negative connotations, like I had a conversation with someone that I found enlightening about the term "obsessive" - what's actually being described when we talk about a person with OCD exhibiting "obsessive" symptoms, would probably be more accurately described as intrusive +
Thoughts, which doesn't have the same long-standing negative connotations. The whole DSM of mental disorders needs to be thrown out and rewritten in a way that's led by people with the conditions in question, not by ableist neurotypical psychiatrists who think anyone who +
Differs from the norm is somehow inferior, and that displaying symptoms is inherently bad. It's not wrong and it's not bad of you to exhibit symptoms of your illness. You are not a bad person for being symptomatic. But that's unfortunately a much broader conversation, and I +
Would encourage anyone to look into the types of activism and pressure that disability and mental illness orgs are doing to push for less stigmatising terminology.

But whilst we're not at that point yet, we need to be conscious of the implications of our language. Like, yes, +
It wouldn't be a symptom if it didn't inherently cause a problem for the person with the condition, or for others (though it's very important to be aware that the vast, vast majority of mentally ill people are not a danger to others) but there's a big difference between +
Criticising people for the impact of their behaviour, and insulting people because their behaviour resembles the symptoms of a mental illness. There's a difference between not excusing harmful behaviour just because it's the result of a symptom that a person may not have control+
Over, and treating someone like they're a bad person for being symptomatic at all. The difference comes down to criticising behaviour vs attacking a person, and that difference is especially important to be mindful of when the behaviour in question can be a MI symptom. It's +
Critical to be understanding and compassionate towards mentally ill people who may be struggling with their symptoms, and that isn't the same thing as excusing the harm people may cause to others. And one of the things that entails is not insulting people by listing behaviours +
That conveniently map straight onto the symptoms of an MI. You're still in that mindset of MI = bad, it's just a more subtle way of doing it, and you might as well still be calling someone bipolar - using the name of the specific disorder is just saying the quiet part out loud +
at that point.

As with tackling all forms of marginalisation and bigotry, there's nuance, and there's a lot of societal stigma to undo, and replacing problematic language without thinking about what we're replacing it with and why, isn't going to fix the underlying problem of +
stigmatisation.

TL;DR - don't just straight swap overtly ableist terms for covert descriptions that still have ableist connotations. Think about what the behaviour you're criticising is, and why it's bad. Is that bc it's harmful, or bc it resembles MI symptoms?
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