Language is thought, the fact of the matter is that we live in a very biased society. Even though one may claim to have “moved past” some of the “nastier” phases of historical injustices, we still suffer the impacts though language.  For example, we still use the word “hysterical” which refers to a woman on her menstrual cycle and all the misinformation and mistreatment regarding women’s health.

In particular I would like to address the use of the word “crazy”, “insane” or “psychotic”. Aside from generally being insensitive phrases for those close to that issue, I think that there is another destructive implication. For example

 “Hey, [person], don’t do that [verb], that’s crazy.”

This is a very common phrase and to be honest, I don’t think many put much thought into it. But when you examine the implications and assumptions, the phrase is actually very detrimental to everyone.

What the phrase is really saying, with context observed is this:

 “Hey, [person], don’t step outside of this social norm, only people who are mentally unwell do that. You don’t want people to think that about you. Do you?”

The same goes for any other synonym for “crazy”. The phrase is most often used when someone is doing something that is outside of a social norm, or has risk associated with it. The implication being, that a “crazy person” would engage in that behavior, because why wouldn’t they? They’re “crazy”. In this way everyone is limited. People should be allowed to explore new frontiers and ideologies without being told that their mental stability is questionable. On the other hand, persons with mental disorders do not deserve to be labeled as always being unstable or “crazy” on top of always being labeled as outsiders and engaging in high risk behaviors. Granted the idea or behavior may be “illogical” “hot-headed” or just down right “no bueno”, call it what it is. There is no reason to group a large demographic comprised of many ideologies and backgrounds into one word for the purpose of a misinformed adjective.

-Erich Zann*

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
― George Orwell1984

*Erich is the pen name of our guest student blogger who can be contacted by e-mail at:

Disclaimer: The views expressed by guest bloggers do not necessarily represent the views of Disability Access Services or those of Oregon State University.

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