Mental Health Bookclub discussion

MiXED NUTS or What I've Learned Practicing Psychotherapy
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2016 Group Reads > MiXED NUTS - Use of language

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Martha (marthais) I appreciated this book's use of "plain english" that wasn't overly-academic or dry. However, I struggled with the use of nicknames for his clients that seemed juvenile and sometimes disrespectful. I also struggled with the title and the use of 'nuts', 'nutty', 'crazy' throughout.

I won't just repeat my review, but it's interesting to consider the use of language in a book like this. On the one hand, using humour in mental health conversations isn't a bad thing and can be beneficial, particularly in reducing the perception of mental health as a 'taboo'.

On the other hand, language such as 'nuts' or 'crazy' has been used to attach stigma to mental illness and to shame and silence sufferers. That may not be how it's being used here (clearly Cormier cares about his clients and has been effective in helping them), but is there a risk that "laypeople" can read a book like this, and see it as permission to continue using that language and subsequently perpetuating stereotypes and stigma

What are your views? How do you think the language of mental health is today and has it changed? How does the acceptance of this language compare to that used to describe other social groups - e.g. racial minorities, those with physical disabilities, women, LGBTQ+ etc.?


Marina (sonnenbarke) I didn't like the use of words such as "nuts" or "crazy", either. I think the risk is real that laypeople see this as a permission to continue using such language when talking about mentally ill people. I know the author probably just wanted for his book to be more lighthearted (as you say, it's obvious from what he writes that he really cares for his patients), but I don't think this worked out all right.

I don't know that the language of mental health has really changed during the years. Obviously I can only talk about the situation in my country. People normally use words that would translate as "nutty" or "crazy" to describe people with mental illnesses or even eccentric people who are perceived to be not really normal and/or "with a screw loose"/"not all there". This is very sad in my opinion. Some people are not even aware that this might be disrespectful, so common is the use of such words and phrases.

I think, at least here, it is very much the same as concerns other social groups. People with disabilities or LGBTQ people are often referred to with rude words that should in my opinion be banished from our vocabulary, even though their use is so widespread that it's not likely they will ever disappear from our vocabulary.

I would be very interested to know how the situation is like in other countries.


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