Do You Have A Right To Dictate What Words Others Use?

@Chellezhere (10790)
United States
August 13, 2022 11:37am CST
Nope. That is where you are wrong. You may not like the word "retarded," but it is a legitimate medical term, so as long as you or your loved one are not the subjects, it's none of your business how someone else refers to themself. In his article, “Understanding the Culture of Disability,” VisionAware Peer Advisor, Steven Wilson states the following. “In the realm of disability studies, there is a problem with the concept of ‘people first language.’ The premise is that we are viewing the individual and not the disability. However, we can’t assume this is how a disabled person prefers to be identified because this language tends to take away part of that person’s identity. It is important to get to know and communicate with the individual and learn how that person may prefer to be identified. At the same time, it is important to understand that a disability does not define the person. Rather, it is a part of their unique identity.“ Case in point - me. I was born without a corpus callosum. That is the brain’s key communications center. Brain imagery shows that I - not you (or your loved one) - I clinically have the brainwaves of a severely mentally retarded child. The keyword there is “clinically.” Severe mental retardation is a finding on my brain imagery, and not the way I function. I may share that fact with whomever I choose. You may use a different word, but you can't tell me to use it. According to neuropsychologist Steven Pinker, your euphemism doesn’t work. “The negative connotations of a word come not from the word itself, but from people’s pre-existing prejudices. Changing the offending words is a stop-gap non-solution, because, eventually, the politically correct euphemism acquires the same negative baggage as the old word. This is called the ‘euphemism treadmill’.” Learn to read people and listen to them. When someone says that they have (or their child has) the brainwaves of a severely mentally retarded child, they are not saying you are (or your daughter is) retarded. They are talking about themselves or their daughter. That is their life’s story, not yours, so accept their choice of words and listen to their stories without input. Parker, S. J., MD. (2007, July 18). “Developmental Delay” or “Mentally Retarded?” Getting Off the Euphemism Treadmill. WebMD. Retrieved August 13, 2022, from Understanding the Culture of Disability. (2020, October 26). VisionAware. Retrieved August 13, 2022, from https://visionaware.org/emotional-support/understanding-the-culture-of-disability/
It was an all too common story in our School Achievement Clinic: 12-year-old Bertie was doing terribly in school and had just failed 6th ...
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9 responses
@CarolDM (192260)
• United States
13 Aug
Judging is what I think of when I read your post. Not fair at all.
2 people like this
@vandana7 (91498)
• India
13 Aug
From what she has mentioned, I understand that she uses the words for herself, but they infer it as if she is referring to them as retarded. In any event, who is to say that brain does not undergo damage after birth, with various events in life, not necessarily accidents. We don't go to hospitals, get our brains scanned each year ..and then carry a certificate...look mine was fine last year, and so like driving license, it is good this year. We don't understand that organ that well anyway.
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@Chellezhere (10790)
• United States
14 Aug
And I am seeing people projecting their judgemental behaviors onto me. I included two links explaining why it is not wise to tell someone to use a euphemism. A physician wrote the article from WebMD, and a man with retinitis pigmentosa and Usher Syndrome wrote the one from VisionAware. I have every right to tell people to not tell me to use a euphemism instead of the word retarded, and I have that right because my congenital birth defects (including my Chiari malformation) and traumatic brain injury are not make believe. Until people have walked a mile in my shoes, they cannot know what my life is like. Medical professionals who are not my neurologist or his employees talk down to me because I clinically have the brainwaves of a severely mentally retarded child. Radiology technicians are the worst. And because I am high functioning, people who are not neurologists, or employees at a neurologist's office, think I am "normal" and ridicule me like you guys have been doing on here. And that is rude and disrespectful. I cannot help that I am an anomaly. I clinically have the brainwaves of a severely mentally retarded child. And no one can tell me to not say something like developmentally delayed instead, because I am not clinically developmentally delayed. I am a miracle baby because I should not even be able to walk or talk. But because I never showed signs of having any developmental delays (other than being behind others my age in pouring marbles from a pitcher into a bowl at Montessori School), and because no one knew about my missing corpus callosum and Chiari malformation until I was 31, I overcame countless obstacle we never even knew were there. "Severely mentally retarded" is part of my life story and I will not allow that to be sugarcoated because others are afraid of the truth and words.
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@CarolDM (192260)
• United States
13 Aug
@vandana7 I am learning about the brain every days I still see it as judging.
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@FourWalls (47209)
• United States
13 Aug
The word isn’t as significant as the intent behind saying it. You can’t tell people that, though.
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@Chellezhere (10790)
• United States
13 Aug
When the person to whom I am speaking tells me their loved one has a brain disorder or suffered a traumatic brain injury, I empathize. I have both. Complete agenesis of the corpus callosum is a congenital neurological birth defect (i.e., disorder) of the brain, and I suffered a traumatic brain injury during an assault in 1992. I also remind them I was not talking about anyone else but me when I was talking about a medical finding in my brainwaves. I do not call anyone retarded or a retard (including myself), so their inference is insulting.
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@vandana7 (91498)
• India
14 Aug
@Chellezhere Birth defect .. I am not sure it does not rectify itself somewhat as the child grows up. I mean, children born on same day and same time, could have different speeds of growing. One may grow taller faster than the other. The other one may grow horizontally. Therefore, brain too may be having such anomalous growth so we cannot expect it to develop to a specific extent on specific date of pregnancy. Just my thoughts.
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@mythociate (21180)
• Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
13 Aug
Yes, but 'the euphemism' helps remove the condition from the person's identity. I am a brain-injury survivor, and--though I don't often 'confront my disability' (i.e. need people to do everyday-type-things for me that I can't do myself)--my life is arranged so that no one who meets me knows me as anything but 'a brain-injury.' (I mean; it's not like I'm a 'patient in hospitals in the movie PATCH ADAMS---who gets dismissed as "diseases that are being treated" and my humanity is totally dismissed,' but ... well, it kind-of is---or maybe that's just "my thinking.") My city is arranged so that--since I can't drive--it's really easier for me just to stay home all day. That's fine; but it leaves me out of real-life society---other than the few brain-injury-survivor activities I participate in ... the main one being 'the brain-injury camps' I go to. I've been going to these camps since I was a little over 20. The brain-injury happened when I was 14, so--though my body matured the same as it would've without the injury--my mind is (in some way) still 14. I guess that's to say that--though I was a 20-something--I always thought I was going to meet my wife at one of these camps. And maybe I could've, but I was aiming to meet 'one of the uninjured health-students (who volunteer to work at the camps)'---I somehow got it in my head that that's what A FEW of those students are looking-for (to help survivors live fulfilling lives). ... I'm sorry, I got off-track there ... the point was that No woman is looking for "a brain-injury to support." So--if I go looking for a wife--I can't BE 'a brain-injury' ... I need to be 'a man (a writer, I'm thinking) who struggles with some disabilities.'
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@Chellezhere (10790)
• United States
13 Aug
I can sympathize even more so than empathize because no man is looking to support a woman with a traumatic brain injury on top of a congenital neurological birth defect of her brain, either. That's why I am now unmarried and live alone. Except for my son, brothers, father, uncles, and grandfathers, the men in my life have been hateful and demeaning about my apraxia.
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@mythociate (21180)
• Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
13 Aug
@Chellezhere It's a bit of a catch-22; for me, my injury is WHY I have the lifestyle I have (like it's my "job"---or at least "my living"), but I am 'so much more' than that ... you know?
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@Chellezhere (10790)
• United States
13 Aug
@mythociate Yes, I know.
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@RebeccasFarm (73897)
• United States
13 Aug
Oh you are so right..people need to learn to read.
2 people like this
@aninditasen (9226)
• Raurkela, India
14 Aug
This is the language of the neuropsychologist that we have to accept and can't ask them to stop using them.
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@Chellezhere (10790)
• United States
14 Aug
Please check out the article in the link above titled, "Developmental Delay" or Mentally Retarded?" Getting Off the Euphemism Treadmill before commenting further. Thank you.
1 person likes this
• Raurkela, India
18 Aug
@Chellezhere I have read the article and I agree that it's the parents who jump to conclusions without listening to the doctor properly.
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@Ganma7 (3856)
13 Aug
We should not judge anyone
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@Chellezhere (10790)
• United States
14 Aug
Then people reading this discussion need to stop judging me, because I am not the one doing any judging.
@vandana7 (91498)
• India
13 Aug
Deep and well stated. I agree and accept the argument.
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@Deepizzaguy (71542)
• Lake Charles, Louisiana
13 Aug
You have an excellent point that I have no right to stop you from saying a word to dictate what words you use in reference to medical terms that are legitimate.
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@LindaOHio (103696)
• United States
14 Aug
I think it's all about intent. Having a discussion about someone who is retarded is a world away from calling someone a "retard". One is simply using a correct term...the other is being intentionally mean and stupid. Thank you for your post.
1 person likes this