A recent ask made me realize that I should probably have some kind of series to help educate writers about ableist slurs / offensive uses of words relating to mental illness, and offer replacements to use for writers.
It is ScriptShrink’s official opinion that anyone who has been the target of the ableist language used here is fully and 100% able to reclaim it if they so choose.
This was going to be a single post, but it started getting huge so I’m splitting it up. First up is…
Wait, Shrink, you might say. Why is “OCD” in a series about ableist language? Obviously it’s not a slur, right? True, it’s not a slur, but that doesn’t mean it’s not sometimes used in an ableist, demeaning way.
What it literally means:
It’s an acronym for “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.”
When you should use this word / phrase:
When you’re referring to the disorder itself and / or people who actually have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
When you should not use this word / phrase:
When you’re referring to people, behaviors, or things that are not related to the actual disorder.
Why you shouldn’t use this word / phrase:
OCD has a lot of symptoms that are often debilitating to the people who have it, and by associating this disorder with casual, non-clinical level symptoms (such as simply preferring being organized or being focused on details), you make it harder for people who actually have OCD to make their struggles heard and understood.
Examples of how to this word / phrase appropriately:
“She’s been diagnosed with OCD - she washes her hands for hours a day.”
“I have OCD. I have disturbing, intrusive thoughts and do compulsive behaviors in response to them.”
“In the DSM-5, OCD is in the same category as Hoarding disorder, Body dysmorphic disorder, Trichotillomania, and Excoriation disorder.”
Examples of how not to use this word / phrase:
“You actually fold your underwear? You’re so OCD.”
“I’m so OCD about brushing my teeth twice a day.”
What to use instead:
NOTE - I am not saying that any of these words are synonymous with OCD, or that people with OCD necessarily have these qualities. These are just alternatives that can help people describe what they really meant before they chose to use “OCD.”
All of these words have different meanings and connotations. Don’t just pick a word off this list at random - look it up and see if it’s the right one for what you really mean.
Detailed / Detail-oriented
Nitpicky / Nitpicker
So that’s it for the first part! What ableist language or slurs would you like to see me cover in this series next?
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