Archives for language
Yesterday, a speech I made about fighting discrimination and prejudice against people with mental illnesses through changing the way we use language made the evening news and that's why I'm back. I've missed you and for months I've felt guilty about not being here. I've even avoided PsychCentral.com. Here's why: In April, my darling dog Riley died after a four month fight with kidney cancer. He never suffered, but he was only nine years old and he was my best boy, my muse. I adored this little fellow and I still miss him terribly. I stopped writing. One month ago, after months of excruciating pain, my husband Marty had a total hip replacement. He's recovering beautifully, but it's kept me really busy. There have been other illnesses in my family that have demanded a great deal of my time. I wasn't thinking about mental health issues and my mental illness. I didn't have time.
I felt I had lost my voice, that I nothing more to say...I know these are not excuses to abandon you and my blog, but I was really beginning to think I had nothing more to offer in this forum.
What is Sherry Turkle's "Goldilocks Effect?"In her new book, "Alone Together, Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other," cultural analyst and psychologist Sherry Turkle describes the Goldilocks Effect like this: "Not too close. Not too far. Just right." It's also known as the Goldilocks Principle. (Last year, when I was in the throes of my eating disorder I was driving myself and everyone around me to distraction by wanting to be "just right." But it was an ephemeral obsession because "just right" for me was always five pounds less. Impossible, of course.) This is the new normal of our digital age of texting and emailing and posting and online connecting in all its many forms and endless platforms. It's a factor in digital intimacy, but I'm not going into the Robotics side of this story here. Too much for me to handle right now.
Less is more for me...You know, I have lost count of my Facebook "Friends." At this very moment, as I am in Blogging overdrive so I don't care about the numbers of Twitter or Linked In or Pinterest connections I have. I hate numbers anyway. "Less is more," for me. But then, I'm not normal in any way, new or otherwise. We know that, don't we?
In front of me I've placed two dog-eared, yellowing paperbacks from my library. I've kept them for years. Wallflower at the Orgy and Crazy Salad (first editions) both by magnificently multi-talented, versatile, prolific and relentlessly funny Nora Ephron. Ephron died yesterday of "pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukaemia," her son Jacob Bernstein told the New York Times in today's edition.
No one is forever...But somehow, I always believed Nora would be. (She was just 71.) She always brought a smile to my face. A giggle. Like another of my favourite resident New York writers, Calvin Trillin. They're both entirely different, but immeasurably engaging and amusing, at times laugh-out-loud funny because their writing in all its forms pricks our nerves, tickles us, speaks their truths with a visceral honesty that hits us where we live – in our heads and our hearts (and our tushes). Nora went beyond journalism into screenwriting, novel writing, directing, producing, and blogging. When it came to writing and a comic, but always humane vision, there was nothing she couldn't do.
I've been in touch with Sherry Turkle, initially to request an interview.
The pre-eminent scholar on technology and us...Right now, she's buried under a pile of dissertations, grading or marking, as we say here in this country, and how well I understand the pressure of that task. It is backbreaking work. She declined my request most graciously, but surprisingly expressed an interest in this blog. Sherry Turkle is the pre-eminent scholar on technology and its impact on our lives. How it is defining our lives and our identities ~ who we are. Right now I'm reading everything I can get my hands on by her and about her, as I am unable to interview her.
About Sherry Turkle..."She is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Professor Turkle received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist. "She has been studying our changing relationships with digital culture for over three decades, charting how mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics are changing our work, families, and identity. Profiles of Professor Turkle have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Scientific American, and Wired Magazine. She is a featured media commentator on the social and psychological effects of technology for CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the BBC, and NPR, including appearances on such programs as Nightline, Frontline, and 20/20." I need to research my subjects... I cannot write about anything without research.
UPDATE: It is now 4:52 p.m. on Monday, June 25. It is Day 15 of my Blogathon. I had planned to continue the discussion I began yesterday, when I arrived home, but I just did and I'm exhausted. I took the bus and the subway. Therefore, I hope you'll accept that this is my post for today. Tomorrow, I'll finish writing Is "Texting Destroying Our Humanity, Part Two." This has not been a good morning because of all kinds of online demands have distracted me and kept me from my main obligations.
Emails. Texts. Research. Arrrrghhhh!I had a small emergency that had to be dealt with fast. Online. That takes time. It takes twice as long, online, actually. And not because I type slowly. I'm a 150-word-a-minute girl. Started on a manual typewriter. Do you remember those? Then another instant demand came through. And another.
There's little spontaneity online ~ you must wait...People do not always respond quickly. Instantly. Like on the phone. In live engaged conversation. True, emotions sometimes get in the way, but on the other hand, non-verbal cues are very telling. Frankly, they're as important as the words. Still, everything takes so much time. I'm not patient and I don't like waiting.
Today, I'm still pretty tired. Feeling "written out." Exhausted. Overwhelmed by my commitment to blog for 31 days straight. I have another 17 days to go. (Eeeeeek!) For some reason I cannot manage to get a few posts written and "in the can" so I can rest a bit. And breathe. But this might be that post.
Ideas are still flooding into my headFor example, I had considered posting about the heinous bullying of Karen Klein, the 68-year-old school bus monitor by four teenage boys in Greece, N.Y. That repulsive story has already received too much air time and was well-handled here by Psych Central Founder and Editor-in-Chief John M. Grohol, PhD on June 21st in a World of Psychology post. I have some other perspectives on this incident that feed into my discussion earlier this month about discrimination and prejudice. Right now, however, I simply do not have the energy to explore them, so I'm going to recharge before I do.
Something else is really bothering me...So, I'm going muse about that. It's more than just bothering me, I'm worried. Seriously. Perhaps it's a social ill. Or just a social trend. I don't know. I don't even know if it's fair to call it "social." I think it's anti-social. You tell me. We live in an increasingly quiet household. Besides our dogs who live to alert us to at any activity they see outside, our phones almost never ring. I've disconnected one of our two landlines because they are becoming obsolete. Most people prefer email or texting, besides my mother and my youngest step-daughter who do call us and we love to hear their voices. Several years ago, I posted about this in my earlier incarnation of Coming Out Crazy. In that July 3rd, 2009 post, I asked "Is Texting versus Talking destroying the human dialogue?"
I just read Jenise Harmon's enlightening Sorting Out Your Life blog here at Psych Central. It's titled Live Beyond Normal and it's one of today's most popular. It deserves to be and I urge you to read it... Before I rhapsodize about her insights into that misunderstood word, normal, not one of my favourites, I read more posts by Jenise. Thinking Outside The Box hit home for me. "Everyone sees the world through their own frame, or box," Jenise says. "Early on in life, people are given labels, told who they are and what is expected of them. They are ‘put in boxes.’ A teacher may label a student as gifted or slow. Parents see one child as the athlete, one as the smart kid, one as the comedian. Peers give the labels of stupid, ugly, dumb, fat, or loser.""But boxes, no matter how ornate or beautiful, are limiting." So true. So beautifully stated.
My formal psychiatric psychotherapy is ending. I've been reflecting on some recurrent themes. They won't move mountains for you or transform your view of life. They're not earth shattering. That's a misconception about psychotherapy. Psychotherapy doesn't change you... It's gradual. It's hard. It's work. It's a process that can change the way you feel about yourself, though you don't realize it while it's happening. You have to commit yourself to it. You end up, I think, with a bit of insight. People don't change and you can't change them... This is perhaps the hardest, most challenging realization I've learned in my therapy. I'm constantly learning and relearning it. Really accepting it has made my life more peaceful. This is as close to an absolute truth as any I know.
Language and mental health/psychiatric illnesses/conditions/diagnoses/challenges/differences ~ labels ~ are hot button, triggering issues for me. They drive me crazy and feed into our collective consciousness, our prejudices and discrimination. Our negative stereotypes. Our sick public discourse. Language is political and words matter... It's time to stop and think about the words we use. To heal that discourse. I'm hypersensitive to language. So, first, let us consider the seemingly innocuous little article "the"... It sounds innocent enough, but not always. I cringe at the term, "the mentally ill." Who are the mentally ill? What exactly does that mean? Who are "the mentally ill?" Are they one group of people or many different, unique individuals? What do "the" mentally ill look like? What are their mental illnesses? Do they have productive jobs and careers? Do they have families and friends? What exactly are we saying when we talk about "the mentally ill?" And how about "the homeless"? I really get upset when I hear or read that one. The article "the" when describing a group of people instantly labels them and no one wants to be labeled... Linguistically, the word "the" used that way is an insidious device to take away our individuality, our uniquenesses.
I detest the word "stigma." It makes my skin crawl because no one takes personal responsibility for it. I hate the way it sounds. I hate to even say it. I prefer calling it the "S" word, but nobody knows what I mean because "stigma" is so ubiquitous and so convenient. Do you know what it means? Discrimination and Prejudice. Add two more words to that definition: Fear and Ignorance. Negative Stereotyping. Unnecessary Barriers. Get the picture? There is no stigma. Just prejudice and discrimination. When you say the word "stigma" you actually incite "stigma." Linguistically, it's an etymological trick, a praeteritio. Nasty stuff. Let us ban that word and call it by its proper names. Discrimination and Prejudice. Perhaps then, people will take personal responsibility for their own attitudes and ignorance and fear and prejudices and discrimination. May even attempt to change their attitudes. Learn more. Understand more. Become more empathetic. Compassionate. Kind. Inclusive. Maybe. But will anyone accept that their attitudes are prejudicial and discriminatory, that they have a problem? Perhaps by changing the language we can begin to change our culture, and our collective conscience? Am I asking too much? Certainly, we, who live with our psychiatric histories, who internalize our diagnoses, seem to suffer the most as a result of these sick misguided prejudices and discrimination. This irrational fear and ignorance. "Stigma" isn't some black cloud, out there in "society." The word is constantly misused and misunderstood. Here's some background on this blighted word...