What our Movement needs is a name

Since the beginning of time, humans have been distinguished from animals because we had this penchant for naming things. We name our babies when they are born; thus, one’s name is the very first word that describes, specifically, who one is.

A psychiatric diagnosis is another form of naming. Once a person is diagnosed, he or she is handed a role to play, with set of pre-formed characteristics, quirks, and of course, “limitations.” Some, once given this role, play it well, while others, a minority, reject the role and leave the System behind, if they are able.

Both one’s name, and one’s diagnosis, declare what or who a person is. Naming says, “You are…” Our names define us and shape who we become, despite our pleas and denial.

In the Bible, the text used in many traditions, we humans were told by God to name all the animals. Naming not only animals, but all we see before us becomes what we know as spoken and written language.

When a writer writes a book, he or she might have a title in mind. In graduate school I learned that having a “working title” helps to frame the book. A working title, whether the writer keeps that title or changes it, frames the narrative. “I am writing about this, not that.” I found that it writing got easier once I had a working title to my thesis, (which, by the way, I changed later on).

What do we call our Movement? I notice we don’t have a specific name for it. Some use the term antipsychiatry, but others don’t like the association to the CCHR. We used to hear Mad Pride much more than we do now. Some say the term has been co-opted by pro-psychiatry groups. If we refer to ourselves as psychiatric survivors, and therefore, call ourselves the Psychiatric Survivor Movement, we exclude our allies, such as the many parents who have joined us, protecting children against harm.

If we are to succeed, we need to choose a unified name for ourselves. A name would define us and set us more solidly along a path toward our goals.

Armed with our name, we will know what to call ourselves. We won’t have to shrug and say, “The Movement” which might sound dubious (even delusional) to anyone unfamiliar with our circles.

Naming ourselves will surely strengthen us. It will help bring more patients and concerned citizens to realize the truth. Naming ourselves might even give us more clout in the media.

I’m not going to suggest a name, nor choose among the great ones we already have. I’m only asking that we consider solidifying our cause this way.

Feedback and comments welcome!