I agree, Tony, that we do need to have some labels, defined as "a descriptive term, an epithet", or "to identify or classify" persons, schools of thought, etc.
I think both definitions often apply as one, as in the term "mentally-ill". There is no place on an anatomical chart that one could find the mind. There is a brain, however,and if there must be a label, then it sould be " brain illness", because that's what it is...a genetic, physiological illness, just as heart disease and diabetes(and other chronic physical illnesses) are labeled.
The label of "mental illness" can be more devastating than the illness itself at times, because of the stigma attached to it. One woman I spoke with said that she felt that she had the words "mentally ill" emblazoned across her forehead, as she had faced so much rejection after her diagnosis.
This also enables insurance companies to allot less insurance dollars for a mental, rather than a physical illness. Most "mental" illnesses have been proven to be physical, as I said above, so how is it that these companies can continue to afford different coverage? It's all in the labels attached, classifying one group as different from another.
Other labels are equally harmful. Children put in special education, and separated from their peers suffer tremendously. They are teased, taunted, and called, "dummy". They rarely reach their potential. Those children who are mainstreamed, but just pulled out of the class two or three hours a week for special treatment do much better. So that's an answer for that situation.
The above are negated by the labels attached to them, and there are many more situations in which the labels placed upon people override who they are.
We all have a multitude of labels. For example, I am a Finnish American, a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a Democrat, a college-graduate, a therapist, a driver, over-forty, a poet, a writer, a gardener, a reader, a romantic, a traveler, a type of perfectionist, a caregiver, artistic, creative, patient, a smoker, often late, a worrier,...I could go on and on. These types of labels are usually benign (except smoker). Do they negate me? I don't think so...they are putting me into groups, but they are also descriptive. It doesn't mean that's exactly or all I am. They do not put me in a box, and restrict my growth, nor allow for changes
It is the harmful labels that negate people, box them in...most often the slang terms for groups of people.
A quote from Kierkegaard:
"Since earliest childhood an arrow of grief has been buried in my heart. As long as it stays there I am ironic—if it is drawn out, I'll die" (from the Journals, VII 1 A 205).
His father was thought to be "insane", and I suspect that Kierkegaard inherited a bit of his father's propensity toward an absurdity in thought patterns. He also says that his "depression has been the most faithful mistress I have known..."
The statement about labels might be applied to his multiple pseudonimity of authorship, believing that the writings should be judged for what they were, not by who wrote them. Yet, he applied many labels to himself in his writings. It seems he believed that this statement about labels also meant only those labels which he believed harmful.
Of poets, he says, "What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music." Though his description is, in itself, poetic...he is, essentially, applying a label.
So, I think that we cannot escape labels, but only try to change those that are misleading or harmful, and that is a giant undertaking.
JMHO........(those are for Trev) Kris
[This message has been edited by warmhrt (edited 03-25-2000).]