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    Default I'm a little OCD...

    So, I'm writing because something has been bugging me lately. There is a cultural meme that has become very popular these days, the idea that craving order in your environment makes you, "a little OCD."

    This bothers me. To start: the world you want is "anal." It refers to the Freudian stage of psychosexual development in which a child learns to control the world around them. The concept is that a lack of control during this stage leads adults to want to control minute aspects of their world, and being bothered if things aren't quite right. A lot of people have this, and it's essentially normal. For obvious reasons, this term isn't very popular.

    Instead, we just say that we're "a little OCD." But that isn't the case. In fact, OCD is a serious condition that had nothing to do with anal character. An individual with OCD will find their minds wholeheartedly consumed by a single thought. It becomes nearly impossible to think of anything else. This is known as an obsession. This obsession will not go away until the individual acts upon it: a compulsion. These compulsions could be anything from clicking your tongue a few times, snapping your fingers, or rhythmically tapping a table to more severe things, like washing your hands over and over again for hours, until your hands are bleeding.

    When I was young, I began to develop OCD. It was not grey severe, and I played it off as a "game" whenever my parents noticed my odd behavior. The rules of the game were simple: if I did something with my right hand, I had to do it with my left, and vice versa. The same with my feet. Eventually, my whole body. It was annoying once I decided I wanted to stop and found that it was very difficult, but I managed to shift the focus of my obsession.

    From then on, I fidgeted. If some part of me was not moving, I could not think clearly. My teachers thought I had ADHD, but I lacked the language skills at the time to explain. I was eventually medicated for ADHD, but the medicine made me paranoid and angry, so I was taken off of it.

    Later, the compulsion changed a little bit. I began to make noise. I would sing, or make guitar sounds. Basically, I was discovering music, and my mind became fixated on the sound of the music, and on the beat and tune. I soon noticed that this behavior was annoying to others, and through great willpower i was able to tone it down. I would either make the noises quietly, or I would tap out drum sounds softly.

    Realizing that I was annoying those around me, I attempted to switch the compulsion again. It's not an easy thing to do, and it means trading one obnoxious habit for another. If it isn't obnoxious, it probably isn't good for you. Still, I needed friends, and no one liked me when I made noise. I remembered when my dad would crack his knuckles, and I always found it fascinating. I became obsessed with the cracking sound. I needed to hear it. I would pop each of my fingers, and then I would go back and try it again. I wouldn't hear the pop, but in my mind, I needed badly to hear it, so I would twist and pull and turn my fingers further and further each time, until I finally heard that feeble pop. It was painful, and I have done irreversible damage to my fingers.

    Relief came in the form of a drum set, which I ironically rarely played. But it got me interested in the sound of the drums. I started to tap out drum beats on tables and chairs until my knuckles were bruised, and I could barely move them.

    As I matured, I learned how to quiet the nagging in my head by playing the drums quiet enough that I knew what the beat was, and no one else could really hear it.

    I am an adult now, and it is coming back in force. I calmed down significantly, put on some weight (I'm not complaining), and I no longer have the kind of anxiety I once had. I've learned to sit still, and quiet myself. Unfortunately, I have traded a physical compulsion for a mental one.

    Before, I was compelled to fidget or make noise. Now, I am compelled to think a specific thought. I will go about my daily activities, and suddenly, my mind becomes fixated on a series of words. They are very meaningful words to me, and are an important part of who I am. But this compulsion takes something that once gave me hope, and turns it into a nightmarish infestation that haunts my mind.

    I won't tell you what the words are, but I will tell you what my mind has twisted them into. In order to streamline the process, to shorten the period of time in which I sit still, in which I cease activity and become seemingly catatonic, I have attempted to say it quicker and quicker. It has gotten to the point that I no longer enunciate my own thoughts. It now only sounds like, "unsalla, ummeh."

    It is quickly driving me crazy. But to make matters worse, it is almost impossible to speak to people about my problem. (Removes soap-box; stands upon) The unfortunate misdefinition of the term "OCD" has made me feel even more isolated than my condition.

    I'm not writing this to make you feel sorry for me, or to ask for pity. I am writing to hopefully make a few people understand how it feels to have such a painful and isolating condition bastardized and made a mockery of. When I was a child, I rubbed my leg with my opposite foot until it was raw and bleeding. I believed that it itched, and I was attempted to scratch it. I've done this a few times since then.

    I was bullied in high school, and my obsession caused my mind to always be fixated on the way I was treated and how worthless I felt until I could no longer bear it. Yet, it is exceedingly difficult to talk to people about because of an unfortunate misunderstanding of exactly what OCD really is. I found it difficult to explain it, even to my wife. This is one area where I believe the English language falls short, in that it does not really have a good word for the meticulous and controlling behavior that most people mistakenly term "OCD." Not to put too fine a point on it, but it's kind of like telling someone you're a little PTSD because you sometimes get anxious. These two things are very far apart, and it is very disrespectful to those who deal with it to compare those two. (*lets out long sigh; steps down from soapbox)

    The truth is, I am not criticizing anyone for using this phrase, because most people don't truly know what OCD is. Mental health disorders are so common, but there is a stigma about them, and people don't like to talk about them, unless they are exploiting people's cultural fears of them. We see movies about people with dissociative identities or schizophrenia murdering people, and we fail to realize that most people with these disorders don't harm anyone (in fact, one of the most dangerous mental disorders, sociopathic behavior, we freely welcome and encourage, but that is beside the point).

    The stigma that surrounds mental health disorders prevents us from having a good understanding of what they really are, and it makes it very difficult on those who experience them. Their condition naturally isolates them, and then on top of that the cultural views on mental disorders isolates them yet again.

    I am writing this, not to complain, not to ask for pity, and not even to bring attention to myself. I am writing this so that others can have a better understanding of the condition. As far as OCD is concerned, I am fortunate that it is not more severe. However, I want you to understand what I mean when I say, "I'm a little OCD, and it really sucks."

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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Thanks for taking the time to tell us this. I'm guilty of saying "a little OCD" at times myself (I like being organized, and I occasionally get mildly distracted for a few moments if, say, I know a light switch is technically off enough to break the circuit but the switch itself isn't fully toggled as far as it can go, but that's easily overcome). I'm sure I over-use (and mis-use) the term in the way you describe, and while I of course can't speak for anyone but myself, I'm going to work on fixing that.

    I appreciate your candor!

    (This thread will probably get moved into Friendly Banter rather than Media, though, I expect.)
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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    I definitely try and catch myself before saying something like this, too. Thanks for the reminder.

    (I have some issues with the term "anal" as well, but that has to do with my opinions of Freud's childhood development hypothesis.)
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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Dont forget to include "Im a little bipolar today" in the list of phrases that should not be. Im not myself, but I hate hearing people (for whatever reason usually teenage girls) declaring how they are feeling a little bipolar today and it irritates the heck out of me. These people are basically reducing truly traumatic and life altering mental conditions into a catch phrase and diminishing just how terrible these afflictions can be. I know they dont do it to be cruel, they do it out of ignorance, but its a really stupid thing to go around proclaiming.
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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Many of the doctors I've spoken to about obsessive compulsive disorder themselves say people are a little OCD. The idea is that everyone has obsessions and compulsions. It's just not a disorder until it reaches a certain magnitude.

    Additionally, Freud is sort of bunk, isn't he? I mean, saying it's not that people display non-disordered levels of obsession and compulsion, it's that associating sphincter control with a need for sexually driven micromanagement is happening is sort of reaching. People compiling in a fashion that makes them have quirks, such as having to make letters in school touch the bottom line on the page and not cross under or stay over, Makes sense. Attributing it to sexual development is sideways.


    I say I'm a little OCD because I am. I've controlled it, it's no longer life-affecting, but I still have those subroutines where my net hour isn't right unless I rub another person's skin just so for no real reason; my sandwiches are perfect because I will spend an hour getting the exact right amount of spread and evenness, and sometimes I will scrap an entire page because it's either start over, or redo that one errant letter for an hour until my nervous system is satisfied. It's not a disorder, but is sill there. I think this happens to a lot more people than we give credit for.


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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Quote Originally Posted by SiuiS View Post

    Additionally, Freud is sort of bunk, isn't he?
    Nearly all of Freud's theories are considered by modern psychology to be little more than pseudoscience. His only real value nowadays is the historical value of being the first to systematically look for such answers.
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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was very young, and it bothers me when people say they're "a little ADHD" (or a little "ADD" since they still use the old terminology) without understanding what it actually is. So I sort of understand what you mean. I tell people I have ADHD and the answer is usually either "nah, you're just inattentive" or "yeah, I think I do, too."

    I've heard people say "I'm a little OCD, I always need to have my room clean" and have told them that this is not what OCD means, but on occasion they have replied that it totally is. Wanting to have things in a certain order does come with some cases of OCD, but it's not just THAT that causes it.

    It must really suck with OCD, though . At least "a little ADHD" isn't that common of a phrase. My sympathies for having to deal with that stigma.
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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    The thing about OCD is that if you have it, you really have it. The problem is that when most people say OCD, they really mean OCPD.
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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Quote Originally Posted by SiuiS View Post
    Many of the doctors I've spoken to about obsessive compulsive disorder themselves say people are a little OCD. The idea is that everyone has obsessions and compulsions. It's just not a disorder until it reaches a certain magnitude.
    All the disorders in the DSM-IV (and the psychiatric disorders in ICD-10) are defined with "causes clinically significant distress in patient and/or surroundings". Of course, that's a bit subjective and dependent on the social environment - a little like the difference between malum prohibitum and malum in se - but given that we are dealing with fallible humans and not angels... it's probably the best we can do.

    So, yeah, most people have their tics, their obsessions, and their anxieties. Don't worry about it until it really starts hindering you in your life.

    Good post, cold. Hope your problems get better.
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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Quote Originally Posted by shawnhcorey View Post
    The thing about OCD is that if you have it, you really have it. The problem is that when most people say OCD, they really mean OCPD.
    Interesting. I've met a few cleaning oriented people with actual OCD, like, take everything apart and redo it until it works and the anxiety stops. But not many.
    I don't think the last book I checked on the subject differentiates these much. The second name for OCPD sounds familiar though, so maybe my memory is just terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Asta Kask View Post
    All the disorders in the DSM-IV (and the psychiatric disorders in ICD-10) are defined with "causes clinically significant distress in patient and/or surroundings". Of course, that's a bit subjective and dependent on the social environment - a little like the difference between malum prohibitum and malum in se - but given that we are dealing with fallible humans and not angels... it's probably the best we can do.
    Yeah, but that's my point. And I realize it doesn't quote conflict with OP's point as I thought, but...

    People will name a disorder to get a point across, out of lack f articulation. They aren't trying to say "I have a clinically diagnosed condition that fits the textbook expression of a mental disorder", they are saying A) they have symptoms worth noting and B) they recognize other people see that as problematic. Like depression. People have been saying they feel depressed for a long, long time. Very few of these people have depression; they're just sad. That doesn't make their word choice wrong, though.

    But yes. This works the other way as well, where overuse of the term removes gravitas from the actual condition. Part of why mental disorders are invisible I suppose, seeing as how a barely interested layman can't actually differentiate between clinical depression and sad enough temporarily to shirk duties. I guess I will continue being lighter on the course in my personal life, but switch positions in the greater sense. We should take care to be clear and not diminish these conditions but their over use.


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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Thanks for the positive response, guys. When I wrote this, I was dealing with some depression and anxiety over the condition, but it's been very helpful to read your responses and thoughts. I'll adress a few questions people had.

    Yeah, Freud is bunk, and almost all of his theories are considered wrong. I simply referred to him to explain the term "anal," because that was the only term I could think of at the time. I suppose meticulous works as well, or controlling.

    Some people with OCD can be very meticulous, though not always. As for a few of the other conditions people mentioned, I agree. ADHD gets made fun of a lot because it is wrongly associated with a lack of discipline. My mother-in-law suffers from bipolar depression, and it's way more serious than a teenaged mood swing.

    Thanks for the support, guys!

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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Quote Originally Posted by cold1029 View Post
    Yeah, Freud is bunk, and almost all of his theories are considered wrong. I simply referred to him to explain the term "anal," because that was the only term I could think of at the time. I suppose meticulous works as well, or controlling.
    Oh, okay. I didn't get that at all. My faux pas.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    Nearly all of Freud's theories are considered by modern psychology to be little more than pseudoscience. His only real value nowadays is the historical value of being the first to systematically look for such answers.
    Yeah, nearly all. Probably his best stuff was the defence mechanisms - modern researchers like Vaillant have confirmed that nearly every one of them actually exist. But his psychosexual stages are nonsense.

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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    The only time I say that I am a "little OCD" is when I have to check if the front door is locked before going to bed... multiple times.

    The thing that drives me crazy is lying in bed and suddenly feeling the need to go check again, even though I *know* that I already checked three times. I can't settle down and go to sleep until I go down and check once again.

    Some nights I am fine, some nights I have to check about 4 times. I feel lucky that it isn't full blown OCD and I have to check more than that, but I feel that I can empathize to a degree with the frustration of having a compulsion that you know is irrational, and not being able to relax until you address the compulsion.
    Last edited by Aliquid; 2014-08-25 at 05:21 PM. Reason: spell check

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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    I'm totally with you on all of this. I have OCD, and a degree in Psychology, and I can't mention it to any new people without them going "Oh yeah, I totally have that too, like when you've just got to get the bath so totally clean?!"

    Although I understand why people do it it can be terribly frustrating to sufferers who grew up with this, were bullied because of it and couldn't properly describe their feelings because when you're a child it's super hard to understand.

    There was an animated series called Animated Minds shown on Channel 4 at night, years ago. They did an OCD one which helped me to realise that I wasn't the only one going through this. I think you can watch it here: http://animatedminds.com/the_films/o...ly_compulsive/

    Let me know if the link works, apologies if it doesn't, I'm at work and the settings can be silly. This isn't exactly what's in my head, but it's the closest I've found to the feelings and actions I go through, particularly when I've having bad days (it's kind of under control now, I'm on medication, but it intensifies when I'm stressed).

    Good post cold, people need to remember not to belittle such serious conditions.

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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    I have a minor thing - I need to have an even number of messages in my inbox. It's not a crushing compulsion, but it's very annoying if I have an odd number of messages. Also I usually have a mathematical thing going on - I check whether numbers I see are divisible by three, or contain squares of numbers.
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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    I think I can see a bit of what you mean whenever I hear people say they are "depressed" when they mean "sad" or "frustrated". But then, even having regularly recurring clinical depression, I'm still guilty of calling things "depressing" myself, so I guess it doesn't compare.

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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    So have I. It's called "polysemy" and is a normal feature of human languages. When people feel they lack a word they don't invent a new one (because then you'd have to explain what you mean, which is what you're trying to explain), they use one that close and rely on a certain flexibility often present in the human mind.
    Last edited by Asta Kask; 2014-08-28 at 09:29 AM.
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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I think I can see a bit of what you mean whenever I hear people say they are "depressed" when they mean "sad" or "frustrated". But then, even having regularly recurring clinical depression, I'm still guilty of calling things "depressing" myself, so I guess it doesn't compare.
    But that's actually correct, isn't it? Being depressed and having depression are different. We have depression and clinical depression.


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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Well said, OP. It's good to see this topic being brought up, because it's one that really doesn't get addressed much despite it being, I would say, quite important. There is an awful lot of misconception around mental health, and how terms referring to various mental illnesses and disorders are misused in general speech do not help matters (see also: the persistent misuse of 'psychotic'; especially how often it's conflated with 'psychopathic').


    Quote Originally Posted by SiuiS View Post
    But that's actually correct, isn't it? Being depressed and having depression are different. We have depression and clinical depression.
    From what I've seen, most of that distinction is owed to 'depressed' having been diluted by everyday use, as in 'clinically depressed' is used specifically to indicate you aren't talking about 'depressed' in the diluted sense. On the professional side of things the terms seem almost interchangeable. When a distinction is drawn it seems to be over whether it's accute or chronic.
    [note: most of what I've seen on the professional side of mental health has been as a patient rather than a practitioner. It is entirely possible I'm wrong on the above]


    And yes, the way 'depressed' gets used very lightly does annoy me a bit. A lot of this is because it conflates 'depressed' with 'being sad', which can feed into the attitude that it can therefore be 'gotten over', which is an attitude everyone who suffers from depression is going to have to deal with, and which is never an enjoyable encounter at the best of times. Even when it's not feeding into that, it's still often misleading as, while depressed people frequently do get very sad, the more significant emotional markers of depression are hopelessness and self-loathing.
    I don't usually feel cheapened by it too much, although it can provoke eye-rolls. If it's starting to drift into hyperbolic comparisons to self-injury and suicide however, that's another story - but then that's another, uglier, topic.

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    Question Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Okay. I give. I had a kid at a game who basically hit on every thread I've been in about stuff like this for the last weak. And was not in any way amenable to admitting being mildly annoyed at having crooked glasses was not an actual condition.


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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Quote Originally Posted by shawnhcorey View Post
    The thing about OCD is that if you have it, you really have it. The problem is that when most people say OCD, they really mean OCPD.
    I think whoever named these disorders really ought to have come up with more distinctive names for them. As it is, it's hardly surprising people confuse them. (At the very least, from what I see at the Wikipedia articles, ODC should probably have been called "Obsessive-Compulsive Anxiety Disorder).


    On the subject of "depression", the general "feeling down" meaning predates the clinical meaning by over 250 years, so I think it's perfectly reasonable to use it in the general sense.
    depression (n.) Look up depression at Dictionary.comlate 14c. as a term in astronomy, from Old French depression (14c.) or directly from Latin depressionem (nominative depressio), noun of action from past participle stem of deprimere "to press down, depress" (see depress).

    Attested from 1650s in the literal sense; meaning "dejection, depression of spirits" is from early 15c. (as a clinical term in psychology, from 1905); meteorological sense is from 1881 (in reference to barometric pressure); meaning "a lowering or reduction in economic activity" was in use by 1826; given a specific application (with capital D-) by 1934 to the one that began worldwide in 1929. For "melancholy, depression" an Old English word was grevoushede.

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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    This is actually a very interesting topic, since I know a lot of people who do claim themselves to be OCD when in reality they are just a bit nitpicky about things. Knowing a close friend who has OCD, I can assure them that they're not what it is, most definitely not. And having worked with children who have been diagnosed with ADHD or are waiting to be diagnosed... Yeah. People do not fully understand what these disorders mean. We know them through generalising comedy and stereotypes. And when some people explain what ADHD actually is and how it affects the person, we still do get people wondering "oh, I do that one thing, I must be ADHD too!". It's like a neverending cycle... People seem to love to self diagnose themselves.

    I have anxiety related OCD tendencies, and for my case I've been told they go away the moment the anxiety eases. For example my first year at uni I was really paranoid about people touching my things, I had to wash my hands all the time and wipe everything I owned with anti-bacterial wipes that other people had touched that day. Plus obsessive repetition of certain routines.

    As someone mentioned in the thread (sorry, I forgot to quote and I can't be bothered now ), everyone is a little OCD, but it's only a disorder when it reaches a certain level.
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    Do not give me any kind of physical affection IRL or online unless otherwise initiated.

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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Silver View Post
    (see also: the persistent misuse of 'psychotic'; especially how often it's conflated with 'psychopathic').
    I used to do that. Then I had a psychotic girlfriend; I try to be more careful about it now.
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    The only person in the past two pages who has known what (s)he has been talking about is Heliomance.

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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wardog View Post
    On the subject of "depression", the general "feeling down" meaning predates the clinical meaning by over 250 years, so I think it's perfectly reasonable to use it in the general sense.
    Words change over time. 'Nice' originally meant 'stupid'; 'ejaculate' originally meant 'shout/exclaim' etc.

    As your own link notes, depression has been used in a clinical sense for nearly 110 years now, which is pretty long for a psychological classification (nearly twice as old a term as 'bipolar', for example) especially when you consider that psychology as a field hasn't been around for that long itself. Unless the world medical community decides to re-introduce 'melancholia' then I'm afraid I can't give this reasoning all that much weight. Particularly given my previously described concerns with the usage of it.


    Quote Originally Posted by FinnLassie View Post
    This is actually a very interesting topic, since I know a lot of people who do claim themselves to be OCD when in reality they are just a bit nitpicky about things. Knowing a close friend who has OCD, I can assure them that they're not what it is, most definitely not. And having worked with children who have been diagnosed with ADHD or are waiting to be diagnosed... Yeah. People do not fully understand what these disorders mean. We know them through generalising comedy and stereotypes. And when some people explain what ADHD actually is and how it affects the person, we still do get people wondering "oh, I do that one thing, I must be ADHD too!". It's like a neverending cycle... People seem to love to self diagnose themselves.
    Yeah, it seems to be an unfortunate side-effect of human psychology. It's been around for a long time (it's a habit of the narrator of Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat; where it's played for comedic effect) and is something that more people should really keep in mind if they're reading about diseases and disorders.

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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Silver View Post
    Words change over time. 'Nice' originally meant 'stupid'; 'ejaculate' originally meant 'shout/exclaim' etc.

    As your own link notes, depression has been used in a clinical sense for nearly 110 years now, which is pretty long for a psychological classification (nearly twice as old a term as 'bipolar', for example) especially when you consider that psychology as a field hasn't been around for that long itself. Unless the world medical community decides to re-introduce 'melancholia' then I'm afraid I can't give this reasoning all that much weight. Particularly given my previously described concerns with the usage of it.
    I don't think those are comparable. No one uses "nice" or ejaculate" that way any more, and haven't for a very long time, whereas "depression" has been used in the general sense continuously. "Words change over times" doesn't mean "when a new meaning emerges, all alternative meaning have to be retired".

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    Default Re: I'm a little OCD...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wardog View Post
    I don't think those are comparable. No one uses "nice" or ejaculate" that way any more, and haven't for a very long time, whereas "depression" has been used in the general sense continuously. "Words change over times" doesn't mean "when a new meaning emerges, all alternative meaning have to be retired".
    No, although there was a time when the two uses would have both been around.
    Point being, just because a particular usage is older does not mean it has priority. Particularly not in this case when 'depression', an some variants thereof, is the only real term we have for the specific mental illness, whereas there is no shortage of other usable words and phrases for the 'feeling sad' usage* (e.g. upset; disheartened; down; blue; dejected; miserable; crestfallen; glum; despondent; forlorn; dispirited; etc). Even before we consider that the colloquial usage of depression probably isn't a helpful one.
    Obviously I'm not going to stop anyone from using it that way (I couldn't even if I wanted to), I'd just rather people didn't do it.



    *To the point where I can't help wondering if this says something about English (or British in general) culture. Depression is sometimes referred to as 'The English Disease', after all.

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