• Propa Alam

Ableist Terms Used in Everyday Life


Ableist language is the bane of our communication. We often misuse words in a politically and morally incorrect manner. With certainty, we are familiar with the terms: “retarded”, “psycho”, “schizo” just to name a few. This language, being used throughout our daily discourse, humiliates people with disabilities. However, these words are not only immoral on account of being degrading, they are directly immoral considering they emphasize the negative stereotypes surrounding people with cognitive, developmental and personality disorders, making them feel alienated.

Our society tends to use these terms often as an alternative to insults such as crazy, dumb, foolish, slow, or inferior and so forth. These words are inadvertently used to denounce people with cognitive disabilities with little consideration, which is disparaging. At the present time, ableism arguably exists and is prevalent in modern society, however, nobody is deliberately aware of how immoral it is. The term “retarded” originates from the medical term describing retardation, which refers to an individual with mental disorders. Note: That there are, however, numerous forms of retardation. Nowadays, the term has been inherently used as a hate speech towards people with developmental and intellectual abilities. Moreover, terms like psychopath commonly sneak into our day-to-day conversations, but the fact is that it is only undermining and stigmatizing the personality disorder. With the introduction of so many social awareness campaigns in the past few years, words such as “psychopath” should be added to the movements, which in turn, could optimistically create a utopian society of socio-politically conscious individuals.

In our contemporary society, these words are synonymous with negative connotations and are used to insult someone. On another note, look how vast the English vocabulary is. When someone uses one of these offensive words to describe others, they are generally humiliating people who have developmental and psychological disabilities and, they may not even be aware of it. We have no idea how detrimental these words are towards individuals with mental illnesses and how they produce negative stereotypes. It is defamatory. In fact, throughout the history of television, these words have been mouthed by television characters, which indicates that the negative connotations to the words were truly non-existent, or they were perhaps used due to mere ignorance.

It is realistic to suppose that these words are often used with the consciousness of the negative connections to it. On the other hand, the awareness could be spread about the extremely negative impact such a word carries. Yet the disabled community should not be subverted by our everyday conversations. For the better, we ought to acknowledge the implications of the words voiced on a daily basis.

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