Using a disorder as an insult is not something to take lightly, especially when some disorders are hard to notice based on a quick glance.
Saying phrases such as “he’s so A.D.D.” or “my roommate is really A.D.D.,” when they are not, is not very considerate of the people actually affected by this disorder.
It’s important to consider what this disorder is and how it affects people in order to get to the heart of what it actually means to have this disorder.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, otherwise known as A.D.D. or A.D.H.D., is “characterized by a pattern of behavior, present in multiple settings (e.g., school and home), that can result in performance issues in social, educational, or work settings,” according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The symptoms include failure to pay close attention to details, difficulty organizing tasks and activities, excessive talking, fidgeting or an inability to remain seated in appropriate situations, to name a few.
People who have not been diagnosed with the disorder can exhibit some of these symptoms, so it can be easy for someone to make the association of this disorder with a trait such as fidgeting.
Unfortunately, making this association based on one or two traits does not take into consideration what it’s really like to live with A.D.D.
Those diagnosed with A.D.D. experience the effects in their daily lives, and it isn’t right to undermine the disorder and degrade it by insult. This is using a disorder to poke fun at someone else, and it isn’t right.
Similarly, other disorders such as O.C.D. tend to be tossed around seemingly without much thought or consideration towards those that actually have O.C.D.
The National Institute of Mental Health describes Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as a “common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.”
O.C.D. is commonly associated with problems of neatness, and a desire to keep things tidy. This makes O.C.D. a common word thrown around to describe people that like to keep things neat.
Phrases that poke fun at people with O.C.D. include “I don’t want to trigger my roommate’s O.C.D.” or “my O.C.D. is kicking in.”
These insults are similar to calling someone overweight or autistic, when these terms do not actually apply to them.
Insults such as these could also be compared to the ones used to attack the LGBTQ community. Phrases such as “that’s so gay,” use people’s identification in ways that make the word an negative.
Attributes that define people, whether through preference, disorder or otherwise, should not be used in this fashion.
It’s one thing to understand what an attribute means and to refer to that attribute in a person who actually has it, and it’s another thing to understand what an attribute means and to use it to describe someone who does not have it.
Imagine how those with a particular disorder would feel if someone used the attributes of their disorder to describe someone else who does not have the disorder.
Imagine how those with friends who live with mentioned conditions, disorders or preferences would feel, hearing their friends being made fun of in ways that are inconsiderate of the attribute itself.
People should be considerate of how they toss around words they use to describe people because the people around them have the potential to be hiding the described disorders, conditions or preferences.
By being considerate of those with conditions, disorders or preferences, the community can be more accepting of these people and learn more about what it means to have these attributes.