Is "Crazy" a Dirty Word?

     According to some consumers, words like "crazy," "wacko," and so on are slurs which stigmatize the mentally ill much as "nigger" stigmatizes Black people or "fag" stigmatizes gays. Those who hold this opinion believe that no one should be allowed to use these words, either in reference to the mentally ill or figuratively. For example, "That's a crazy idea!" should be an outlawed expression, even when it refers to something having nothing to do with mental illness. Using that phrase is analogous to using the word "retarded" in a similar situation, say the promoters of "politically correct" language in reference to mental illness.

     Other members of the mental illness community think limiting speech in this way is silly. They use the word "crazy" themselves when referring to their illness. Getting rid of the word "crazy," they say, won't eliminate either mental illness or the stigma against the mentally ill, they say, and we will just look ridiculous if we say nobody can say anything is "crazy" any more. Moreover, mentally ill behavior really is crazy sometimes, they say. If I think my girlfriend is a lizard person, I am crazy, and mincing words wont fix it.

     Then there are those who think that mentally ill folks can refer to themselves and other mentally ill people as "crazy," but that outsiders shouldn't use the word. It's like "fag," that way -- gays refer to each other as "fags," but straights aren't allowed to.

      Here is a partial list of expressions some consumers want to eliminate from the language:

  • crazy
  • having a screw loose
  • loony bin
  • losing your marbles
  • maniac
  • nuts
  • psycho
  • schizophrenic (if it refers to something other than the brain disease schizophrenia)
  • shrink
  • wacky

      There are also new words that these politically-correct consumers would have us add to the language. Some of these are:

consumer A person who has a neurobiological disorder
C/S/X ("Consumer/Survivor/Ex-patient") A person with a neurobiological disorder; term used by Survivors and their sympathizers
NBD ("Neurobiological Disorder") An illness of the brain, formerly referred to as a "mental illness"
provider A provider of mental health services, e.g. a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, etc.
Survivor (note the capital 'S') A person who has survived the experience of being hospitalized involuntarily and who is against the psychiatric establishment