Posts tagged ‘Label’

Are You S.I.C.K.?

I sometimes tune in to different television shows that touch on mental health issues — some that are intended to be informative and, less often, the more sensational offerings — just to see how the issue is approached. A&E’s Hoarders is easily the most successful and most talked about show to cash in on the social sideshow that is televised “mental illness.” Having watched just a couple of episodes, maybe I’ll share my opinion of the show some other time. For the moment, I’ll concern myself with one thing that jumped out at me from one exchange.

On a recent episode, a therapist referred to one person as fitting the “S.I.C.K.” model —  a clever little acronym for “Sensitive, Intellectual, Creative and Kind.” She lost me. I cannot understand why someone would choose to attach the word sick to positive traits. I don’t know whether that little gem is in common use in her professional arena or if that’s just something she thinks is clever — a brilliantly reductionist little acronym to keep in her back pocket, just itching to use it on the next guy. Either way, nothing good can come of throwing a word as stigmatizing as sick around so liberally in regard to emotional distress, much less, positive attributes and in general we need fewer labels — not more.

For anyone who thinks I may be taking things too seriously, let’s remember it only took Prozac Nation to make the phrase “chemical imbalance” a household name and an accepted truth, despite its standing squarely in the realm of theory. These are two different things, to be sure, but we must be careful with our words. Simply put, words mean things and when you have a viewing audience of 2.5 million, words mean plenty.


January 29, 2010 at 3:44 pm 9 comments


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