Paying Attention to Language: Why It Matters
A seemingly insignificant word choice can harden damaging stereotypes or challenge them, according to the author of this essay on the language therapists use. Does a patient “struggle” with symptoms of schizophrenia, or is he “overwhelmed” by them? Is he a “patient” at all or, rather, a “consumer”—someone who knows how to shop around for optimal care? Therapists can avoid stereotyping by using these simple rules to describe patients: use inclusive, not exclusive language; talk symptoms instead of diagnoses; and employ active-voice verbs.