Labels, traits, illness, syndrome - whats in a name?

24 May 2017

Recently I commented on a blog about HSP, highly sensitive person, that I saw it as another label. The writer, AVFTFS, explained that she didn't see HSP as a label but rather as a trait... She sees it as a trait she was born with, like having blue eyes. Something that is neither positive or negative in itself but just is.

I found this fascinating and wondered what is the difference between a label, a trait, a characteristic, a personality type, an illness, a temperament, a disorder, a syndrome, and what difference each word makes or if each word is treated the same by individuals or society.

"This notion - that mental illnesses are largely inborn personality traits that get pushed into extreme territory by life experience - has just gotten some high-tech confirmation from researchers." Melissa Healy

I think the above research that mental illnesses start as personality traits may remove the stigma that a mental illness has. I have noticed people seem to be saying more often they have a depressive trait, a personality type, a unique character rather than using the word mental or syndrome or disorder or illness.

So if you a have a characteristic, trait or any personality quirk not described as an illness, it seems there is less stigma as people have more confidence in gaining help even if the help would be similar if it was labelled as an illness.

Does it matter what we name things as long as we get help? I think that it does. I am sure if I had been told I had a personality trait that meant I had big mood swings I think my life would have been different. Would it have been better, who knows? I think I would have suffered less stigma and sought help much sooner than I did.

What do you think?

Does it make a difference having a medical label rather than a personality type?

Should we treat people's symptoms and not label them at all?

What do you see as the difference between the different words - illness, trait, syndrome, characteristic, personality type etc?


A Moodscope member.

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Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

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