Careful use of language is important, not only to ensure we understand one another, but also:
- To avoid perpetuating harm done by the medical establishment.
- To maintain the trust of the people we are caring for, without which caring becomes much harder.
To that end, we try to avoid using terms that get misused or weaponised by doctors.
- Instead of words like "psychosis", "delusion" or "hallucination", we use phrases like "perceiving a different reality".
- In our experience, treating one experience of reality as more objectively true than another is usually unhelpful, and risks losing the trust of the person you are supporting. See Supporting people perceiving a different reality to you protocol for more on this.
- Instead of words like "splitting", we use phrases like "sudden emotional swings".
- "Splitting" is a hugely contested term and is often weaponised against people with certain diagnoses. Using that term risks losing the trust of the person you are supporting. It could also be a trigger for medical trauma.
When choosing what language to use you should remember that good care is not the same thing as medicine. Many terms that are commonplace in medical practice may carry this kind of baggage. If in doubt, take your lead from what terms the person you are supporting prefers to use.