meme-hacking “psychotic axe murderer” (pun intended)

A friend asks: do you know if there’s been any progress informing the public about the difference between “psychopathy,” “psychosis,” and “psychotic axe-murder?” which should probably be “psychopathic axe-murderer,” now that I think about it.

I don’t know, but it’s probably similar to when other terms have been adopted by the public and used pejoratively (like “idiot,” “imbecile,” and “moron,” originally specific technical designations). Then we switch to different terms like “mentally retarded” which the public then starts using as an insult, and move on to “developmental delay,” “developmental disability,” “intellectual disability,” etc.

All of these terms have been used to refer to very similar things, which interested parties want to destigmatize, some people merely wish to describe accurately, and many people want to mock and insult. Linguist Steven Pinker calls this the euphemism treadmill.

I think it’s virtually certain that words for mental illnesses and symptoms will continue to be turned into words that mean “completely unresponsive to social norms, and violent” or “SUPERDANGEROUSWILLKILLYOU”.

So what if instead we gave them a word or phrase to name the kind of person they’re trying to name: the kind of person everyone is afraid of, someone who is not merely malevolent and physically dangerous, but so mentally unbound from laws and rules and social demands that nothing you can do will stop them?

Such as “horror movie killers”. Or “Jasophrenics” (after Jason of the various horror movies, but with “phrenic” (“minded”) added because most people named “Jason” are not horror movie killers. Or “berserkers” (though I think that’s kind of mean to the originals. I wonder if they had to go around after battle explaining to people that they weren’t the equivalent of horror movie killers?). I also came up with the idea of “Voldemorts” since everybody loves Harry Potter, but I’m told that he’s not violent enough.

And then we would have the word “Jasophrenic” to describe something that probably doesn’t exist as a discrete clinical entity, just as a catchy mental concept, and we might make more headway in explaining that “psychotic” covers a great deal of ground that doesn’t involve it, and so does “schizophrenic” and “crazy” and “mentally ill,” and even “psychopathic” does too. That might be a lot of education gained for a pretty cheap memehack.


3 Responses to meme-hacking “psychotic axe murderer” (pun intended)

  1. zendevil says:

    Yes, words are weird! I live in France now, but i am English squeaking. Here, the word “con” = “cunt” in English, in Anglo-land it is the most offensive term possible for a Nasty person. In France it is considered to mean just “silly behaviour/stoopid person”; equivalent of “daft bugger/silly sod” in Anglo/English. It’s not deemed vulgar, you would use it to a child who is acting in a silly way.

    But i cannot use that word, even with ****instead of the actual letters on a BBC website, because culturally, it is extremely offensive. Fair enough.
    But i could say “This person is behaving like a prick” (or dickhead; basically a male sexual organ.)

    So: the implication to me seems that a male sexual organ = basically an object which can be ridiculed without anyone taking offense, but the female equivalent cannot; which implies that the female reproductive area is somehow far more special & “scary”….is this due to the fact that only females can actually give birth; using the same route they got pregnant by, whereas male humans have a penis simply as an “extension tube”; as with chickens etc; the “cloaca” serves both for urination & reproduction.

    This is a wonderful site, by the way, i have given it a link to the BBC site…it’s very good to find a place where mental health issues can be discussed openly,without censorship getting in the way, sometimes it is imppssible to explain without using the actual word…which is the whole (NO pun intended, but it’s funny!) point!

    zdt “zen-devil-terri”

  2. resonance says:

    Did you know that hyenas give birth through their clitorises? There but for the grace of path-dependent evolution go we.

    Thanks for the compliment (: I’m updating pretty infrequently due to school/teaching commitments, but I keep hoping to post more frequently, if it ever lets up.

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