Mickey Mouse

David Quarter davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Tue Nov 18 21:19:57 MST 2003

 You're right that it's used to describe a specific condition, although
I'm not sure if doctors continue to use this term. But so is 'mental
illness' and so are the various categories for neurological
'disorders', such as tourettes syndrome.

Condition implies disease. Disease implies abnormality, affliction,
less than normal (some would argue, less than human).

The condition becomes the person (and for the person it becomes,
in many cases, a master status) .

labels act as cues:

Persons identified as sick receive 'pity', 'care' , and 'compassion' --
which are forms of social control, and which can be extremely
stigmatizing for the persons on the receiving end.

(You could make a similar argument for the term  gay, lesbian, and
bi-sexual, or even black, person of colour, asian, etc).

Arguably, there are other ways (e.g.,  'signs', markers) in which to
identity 'sick' individuals (just as arguably there are ways to identify
 some gays, and lesbian, and of course blacks and so forth).
Therefore you could say that a medical label becomes derogatory
because of how people react to it. But there is also a good chance
that in the absense of such labels, no such reaction would ensue.

I believe this is something Foucalt basically alluded to in his
writings on the rise of medicine and on sexuality and is very much
the point that individuals in the Disability Rights and Anti
Psychiatry movements have argued.

This is obviously a debatable point, but I happen to be a strong
proponent of the argument that certain labels leads to
stigmatization/social control.


From:           	Adam Levenstein <cleon42 at yahoo.com>

> --- David Quarter <davidquarter at sympatico.ca> wrote:
> >
> >   Well said, Robin, but I would just point out that the term
> > redardation is derogatory, not to mention very stigmatizing for a
> > person so identified.
> I believe--and I'm not a psychologist or anything--that "retardation"
> is a term used to describe a specific condition. It's only derogatory
> because it's often used in a derogatory manner; people saying that
> something messed up is "retarted," that sort of thing.
> But then, I could be wrong. IANAP.
> Adam

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