Thursday, 14 January 2010

More on the word depression

Today I saw an article about the movie Avatar. This article tells all who read it that this movie is causing people to become depressed and suicidal. What a bunch of journalistic hokum. 

What this likely illustrates is what a topic of a previous blog has been: the inappropriate use of the word “depression”. People do not become clinically depressed after watching a movie; they may however experience a variety of negative feelings (or sometimes positive feelings). We do not call the feeling state that a movie such as Chariots of Fire engenders “mania”. No, on the contrary. We call it; uplifting, joyous, awesome, elevating, etc. Why do we call negative feelings “depression”?

There are so many other words to use. Our language is so rich in words that describe affect. So let’s use some of them: dispirited; demoralized; dysphoric; distressed; disgruntled; disaffected; pathetic; etc. And while we are at it, lets give reporters who may not know how or can not be bothered to write clearly. (or who are using emotive words to sell copy), a clear message that these headlines are of no value in furthering our understanding of the human spirit. Can a movie stir our emotions? Totally! Does it cause mental disorder? No!


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