Letters to the Editor
You should know that the use of the word schizophrenic to describe
the weather in your caption under the photo on the front page (Oct.
4) is extremely offensive for the following reasons: 1) it is perpetuating
stigma about a very serious mental disorder and sets us back decades
if not centuries; 2) to use the term schizophrenic in that manner
implies "split personality," which is a very inaccurate
way to describe this disorder of perception, thinking and emotion
that affects 1.2 percent of the population worldwide; 3) on this
campus there are people who have witnessed schizophrenia in their
families, or may themselves be struggling with trying to attend school
while recovering from the acute effects of the illness and this is
devastating to see in print; and 4) there are many researchers, like
myself, whose work is based on finding ways to promote recovery and
to get people back to school and to work and encourage employers,
teachers and all forms of media to be sensitive with the words they
use and the environment they are creating by using them.
Thank you for providing a means to air these views.
The caption on the front page of the Record of Oct. 4, 2004, referred to the changeable fall weather as "schizophrenic." Schizophrenia has nothing to do with rapidly changing or quixotic behavior or mood swings. Further, schizophrenia has nothing to do with the idea of "split personality" where one can encounter very different and contradictory behavior or interactions. Schizophrenia is most often a serious and chronic medical-psychiatric condition that is rooted in abnormal cognitive and perceptual processes.
At an institution of higher learning, we need to be careful that we do not perpetuate stereotypic but false ideas, particularly ideas that do not enlighten and may continue to promote stigma. Sincerely,
The University Record rarely responds to letters to
the editor, but we received a number of comments similar to those you read
here and wanted to express our regret at the offense our photo caption has
caused. It was not our intention to cause anyone discomfort. The points made
by the authors regarding the seriousness of the illness, our mistaken representation
of schizophrenia as something with two personalities, and our casual use
of the term are well taken.
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