Post by occam Post by Rich Ulrich
On Sat, 9 Nov 2019 07:26:28 -0800 (PST), "Peter T. Daniels"
Post by occam
'Imbecile' and 'idiot' have the same meaning to the man on the street.
That medical professionals draw a distiction between the two terms tells
me that the distinction is necessary for a clearer communication between
I don't think they've "drawn [such] a distinction" for decades at least.
I think they were obsolete for decades when I started
working in a psychiatric institute in 1974.
So? You should bear in mind that political correctness played a large
role in making those terms obsolete - not the need to differentiate
between idiots, imbeciles and morons.
Note that those three terms were part of the professionals everyday
jargon, whereas a whole host of other similar terms were not e.g.
birdbrain, blockhead, bonehead, clot [British], cretin, dim bulb,
dimwit, dodo, dolt, doofus [slang], dope, dork [slang], dullard,
dum-dum, dumbbell, dumbhead, dummkopf, dummy, dunce, dunderhead,
fathead, gander, golem, goof, goon, half-wit, hammerhead, hardhead,
jackass, knucklehead, lamebrain, loon, lump, lunkhead, meathead, mome
[archaic], moron, mutt, natural, nimrod, nincompoop, ninny, nit
[chiefly British], nitwit, noodle, numskull (or numbskull). The point?
They [idiot, imbecile and moron] were NOT dropped because there was no
longer a need to differentiate, but because some nincompoops imposed
political correctness on psychiatrists and other professionals.
I wouldn't describe that as political correctness.
The words idiot, imbecile and moron have moved into non-technical
everyday language to such an extent as derogatory terms that technical
use of them would be misunderstood by non-professionals.
Similarly the medical term "spastic" has been removed from use because
it has become derogatory.
UK and Ireland
The medical term "spastic" came into use to describe cerebral
palsy. The Scottish Council for the Care of Spastics was founded
in 1946, and the Spastics Society, an English charity for people
with cerebral palsy, was founded in 1951. However, the word began to
be used as an insult and became a term of abuse used to imply
stupidity or physical ineptness: one who is uncoordinated or
incompetent, or a fool. It was often colloquially abbreviated to
shorter forms such as "spaz".
Although the word has a much longer history, its derogatory use grew
considerably in the 1980s and this is sometimes attributed to the
BBC children's TV show Blue Peter;[*] during the International Year
of Disabled Persons (1981), several episodes of Blue Peter featured
a man named Joey Deacon with cerebral palsy (described as a
"spastic"). Phrases such as "joey", "deacon", and "spaz" became
widely used insults amongst children at that time.
In 1994, the same year that Conservative MP Terry Dicks referred to
himself in a House of Commons debate as "a spastic with cerebral
palsy", the Spastics Society changed its name to Scope. The word
"spastic" has been largely erased from popular English usage and is
deemed unacceptable to use outside of specific medical contexts,
thus reducing stigmatisation of the condition. However, UK
schoolchildren allegedly developed a derogatory adaptation of the
Spastic Society's new name, "scoper". The current understanding of
the word is well-illustrated by a BBC survey in 2003, which found
that "spastic" was the second most offensive term in the UK relating
to anyone with a disability (retard was deemed most offensive in the
US and other countries). In 2007, Lynne Murphy, a linguist at the
University of Sussex, described the term as being "one of the most
taboo insults to a British ear".
[*] The TV show Blue Peter used "spastic" solely in its medical sense.
Peter Duncanson, UK