Savage Love Letter of the Day: Using "Crazy" Like That Is So Gay, Dan, Really Lame

Comments

1
Not an unreasonable point, and to give credit Dan did make a concerted effort to excise "retarded" from his lexicon.
2
I dunno. As someone with several mental health disorders, I've never felt I was "crazy". Nor have I felt that "crazy" meant me. I mean, I've always been very aware of my mental health issues, and try to be aware when they are influencing me, and apologize and explain afterwards. I function. I'm upfront about it. I work on myself. In my experience, people who act "crazy" are undiagnosed and in denial about it.
3
I'd never denigrate anyone suffering from a legitimate mental illness. That said, anyone who's ever worked in customer service could tell you that more than half the public is completely fucking crazy.
4
Out-of-bounds
6
Vocabulary is fluid. If you want to try and put a stone in the river to stop it, fine: just don't get pouty when it doesn't work. I've been crazy in love, crazy for staying in that job, crazy-silly, and genuinely insane, at times. The word still works for me.
7
"Look, I'm not one of those people who wants to nitpick every colloquial expression, but..."

...let me proceed to do just that.
8
Or .....Zealots and cocksuckers.
Isn't there a song with crazy in the title. I sure hope Emma is onto writing to them as well.
9
@5: It may be an effective catch-all, however if someone takes it personally, it costs you nothing to seek out an alternative.
10
Crazy is a great word, and it describes the lot of us at different times. Glad to hear retarded has been dropped.
I hope Emma is onto writing Randy Newman too. His song about short people is very offensive, and he says they got no reason to live. I think that's what he says..
11
I've got a mental illness that fucked me up pretty good for a few years, and I wholeheartedly support the use of the word "crazy" to describe people who are COMPLETELY FUCKING BANANAS.
12
Venomlash, I'll have you know I love bananas.. They grow in abundance around me. Please choose a fruit name that isn't close to my heart or mouth.
Completely fucking mandarin could work. Not that taken with mandarins.
13
And here I thought she was going to critique the use of "crazy" as a misogynistic word to describe women who get attached after men sleep with them, and then don't return their texts/calls/dm's/whatever-can-and-string the kids are using these days.

Have we moved beyond that? Would that critique itself be considered paternalistic, since it assumes that women need an emotional attachment to go with their sex?

Don't get me wrong, I do think that political correctness overall is a good thing....but sometimes it gets tough keeping up with all the outrage.
14
Drop "crazy"? That's crazy!
16
Crazy is correct much/most of the time. Keep using it.
17
LW comes across as being handsome, clever, rich, about 21 years of age and having not had a great deal of stress or vexation.
18
I prefer cray cray
19
@18 Ah, but "cray cray" is just a euphemism derived from "crazy", and as my pastor once told all us pre-teens, euphemisms like "fudge" and "darn" are every bit as bad as the real words / concepts they're replacing. So no "cray cray" for you!
20
Euphemism treadmill (which is a thing).
21
I like "Problematic Rhetoric Offends Zanies And Cuckoos."

Also: Dan, please start calling people who do weird BS to others "cuckoo" instead of calling them "crazy." I'm a mental health professional, I don't really see the issue here, I have no idea of how this change would help or hurt anyone, but I bet it would make the show more fun to listen to.

Thank you.
22
Anytime I see this shit, I think, why do we even have words? Or language? Are we supposed to invent a whole new lexicon to describe wild driving or some guy lunging at you with a knife or behaving erratically (which btw isn't necessary a sign of mental illness)? Hey let's find another word to describe outlandish or unpredictable behavior so we can quickly decide it's offensive.
23
@19 And I bet your pastor told you that heck is where people go who don't believe in gosh.
24
Yes, we must ban all those crazy adjectives! And every other word that might offend one or two people. The English language has too many words anyway. Let's start by throwing away "erinaceous". Pertaining to, or resembling a hedgehog my ass! It's offensive to hedges and hogs.
25
Cut the word "crazy" out of your vocabulary? Man, you'd be craaazy for trying....
26
The problem with "that's so gay" is that "gay" doesn't have an alternate meaning that makes sense, so you know they're really saying gay is bad. Crazy has another meaning apart and separate from mental illness, and that's obviously what people mean. Same with retarded.
27
Good work acting like reddit neckbeards, everyone.
28
A friend told me once it hurt her when I used the term. She shared her struggles with being manic depressive and the effort she put into it.

I erased the term from my vocabulary.

Immediately, permanently.

It
was not difficult.
29
Uh I understand getting rid of words like "tranny" and "retarded" but culling the word "crazy" is going way too far. I'm mentally ill and I know a lot of mentally ill people, and none of my friends are offended by the word "crazy." Jesus fucking christ.

I think the attitude behind the word is far more important than the word itself. If you're dismissing people as "crazy" without really thinking about their motives, that's bad. I've done that myself plenty of times, even though I should know better. The word in itself isn't a bad thing though.
30
Another person struggling with mental illness here who doesn't mind the word crazy.
31
I used to work with a woman who requested the rest of us not use the word "moist" because it's icky and she didn't like it.

We took no notice of her. She was crazy.
32
Look, if somebody's acting badly in a manner consistent with a particular mental illness, sure, I'll say "he's obsessive" or "she's a psychopath". But when they're just unquantifiably not right in the head, yeah, I'll call them "crazy".

I don't really understand how using "more accurate" language is any less hurtful, anyway. Isn't the very act of pointing out that a mental illness is the root of a problem, stigmatizing to those with mental illness?

I don't think LW has really thought this one through.
33
Shorter Slogarati: your pain as a member of a vulnerable and stigmatized demographic is too inconvenient for us.
34
So referring the poo eaters or animal fuckers or dead animal fuckers as "sick puppies" is also out? Because "sick" denigrates people who have caught infectious diseases. And "puppies" denigrates canines.

I'm cool with the colloquial use of "crazy". That said, most times "crazy" arises in Savage Love, it would be more precise to say "asshole", "drama queen" or "asshole drama queen", so picking which of those apply could be clarifying.

But that would denigrate an orifice vital to anal sex, all drama majors everywhere, and female royal sovereigns.
35
Apparently, comments in brackets don't come through. I'd included *sarcasm* after my first paragraph. And *sigh* after my last.
36
The thing about "crazy" is, it's not really used as a slur against the mentally ill. It's used as an insult against certain behaviors which may be done by people who are or are not mentally ill. For example, Donald Trump said he would bring back waterboarding and "a lot worse." That's crazy. Is Trump actually mentally ill? I have no idea, and it doesn't really matter.

I've been made fun of and treated poorly due to my issues, but I wasn't called "crazy" in the process. I was called "retarded" a number of times though, and I'm not even retarded.
37
As a person with a mental illness, I find being called 'crazy' an insult to my health condition.

For me, 'crazy' is a word that belongs entirely to the cuckoo persons out there, who are not suffering from any diagnosed and treated illness, other than generic egotism and entitlement, which are character flaws that can't be corrected by the medical field (as far as I know). They are crazy, I'm ill.

I bear no more responsability for having a mental illness, as long as I take my medicine as the doctor ordered, than someone ill with the flu.
38
@12: But saying "mandarin" could be seen as a slur against the Chinese.
39
Can we keep the word "batshit?" Are there any oppressed minorities in the process of reclaiming that?
40
Avast @39: I agree with you on "batshit."
"Cray cray" to me is seriously misogynist. Perhaps I've only heard it in the context of "bitches be..." like Dave @13 describes.
Man: *does something rude or selfish*
Woman: *gets upset*
Man: "Bitches be cray cray."
He may be right, because that sort of thing does make me feel a bit homicidal.
41
@39, you are being Chiroptera coprophagic-ist.
42
First, they came for the word "crazy." Then they came for the right to object to craziness...
43
@7 and 42: Beat me to it.

Be wary of people who want to take away your ability to use words to describe the awful shit they put you through.
44
@20: "Euphemism treadmill (which is a thing)."

Yup. "Retarded" was invented in an attempt to avoid using the offensive terms "moron" and "imbecile."
45
Oh for fuck's sake.

Every time someone complains about this, we lose the ability to make people care about actual problems. Dan, why you gotta give this crazy person any attention?
46
Crazy good, crazy bad.

We need those modifiers maybe.

Crazy, man! Was a compliment during beatnik time.

I've had my mental health issues, and embrace the word crazy.
47
I think the best argument against using the word "crazy" to describe people's actions is that usually, it's not an accurate assessment of what's actually going on.

"Absurd," "irrational," "manipulative," "abusive," "hurtful," "self-serving," -- these might be accurate.

But "crazy" is just lazy hyperbole.
48
Why was Patsy Cline so horribly insensitive to the mentally ill?
49
@47. Sometimes shorthand helps.
50
It's @42 all day every day. It's not really about the word, it's about being called out.
51
'Crazy' isn't good when it's used to dismiss a person. And if someone you care about is personally hurt by the way you use it, not-using it is a gesture of caring toward that person. I don't think I use it much.

But it only has the power to hurt when we assume that being crazy is a bad thing. I've felt crazy, and it wasn't fun, but it doesn't diminish my value as a person. I also have a mental illness as do several people I love - some of them quite serious.

I am not a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist and I cannot make a diagnosis. It would be completely inappropriate of me to attempt to label everyone demonstrating apparently socially disadvantageous behaviour with a clinical diagnosis. If I know someone's diagnosis I might use it. But if someone is behaving unpredictably, or is predictably disruptive,* 'crazy' can identify that.

*not necessarily a bad thing
52
Is there really any such thing as 'Crazy'? If you think about it, mental illness is definable and treatable. "Crazy" is not listed as one of those. So, it seems that "Crazy" would be a safe word because it refers to those who behave, well, the way they do while they are NOT mentally ill. Therefore it makes it really crazy! This topic drives me crazy! (would "insane" be offensive -or too close to the truth?)
54
Although I think the LW is being sincere, and means well, s/he is just wrong. Dan's use of the word - and anyone's use of it in similar contexts - is perfectly acceptable. An accusation or judgement that someone is "crazy" occurs when there is no clear explanation for their irrational, difficult behavior. There is, by definition, no way to use a more precise label. And to substitute a label such as "irrational" or "disproportionate" or "unjustified", etc., moves one's discursive register into a kind of bloodless Mr. Spock-like realm that would interfere with the attempt to be informal and down-to-earth.

You could make the argument that the same could be said of offensive racial or ethnic epithets, for example - or even the word "retarded". But that would be wrong: those epithets are meant to denigrate people for who they are. "Crazy," at least when Dan uses it, describes crazy behavior by people who presumably do not have a serious mental illness. Crazy is as crazy does - and we all act crazy sometimes.
56
The use of a derogatory term like crazy is commonplace and seemingly innocuous because the stigma and discrimination against people living with mental illness is so engrained as to be invisible. We still have a long way to go.
57

If someone wants to describe negative behavior, they will reach for a word that has been historically used to describe a negative behavior. The fact that we now, as a group, don't think that particular negative behavior should be stigmatized doesn't undo the valid negative associations with that word.

So we all decide not to say 'retarded' anymore, since it's insulting, and we start using a new term: 'mentally disabled.' And little kids grow up with the new term, and have the associations, and even as we speak they are using it as an insult (to a non-disabled person) on a playground somewhere: "hey, what are you, disabled or something?" and the word shifts from a descriptive word to an insult. And in 15 years we'll all be told to stop saying 'disabled' because it's an insult, and they'll make up a new word, and the cycle repeats.

It's not that I don't see the LW's point, but after a while it's exhausting.
58
@56: That's a crazy thing to say.
Sincerely, a madman.
59
@57. That is a remarkably good point.

The corollary is not to be the word police - because that does nothing - but to be (to the extent possible) behavior police. Teach kids not to pick or be mean to others.
60
@57 describes the "euphemism treadmill" of @20. It's something we all need to understand. Sometimes intention actually does matter.
61
@9 Except the time and effort required to seek said alternative.

The 'this word offends me because I choose to associate myself with it" argument doesn't do much for me, especially since it's not the intent of the majority of people when they refer to someone or something as 'crazy' to imply that they have a condition like depression or bipolar disorder or whatever. However, it is a touch lazy if you just leave it there. The recent post about the trans college student looking at someone's photos comes to mind. Calling that person crazy was a bit reductionist.
62
No, stop it, please. Language is powerful and I completely support PC, inclusive language, but "gay" and "crazy" are not similar cases. "Gay" is a totally appropriate word that can be used positively, that's why using it to imply something negative is not OK! People identify as gay and by misusing the word you are slandering them. "Crazy" is not something anyone self-identifies positively as. It has an inherent connotation that is negative, and using it to call negative things out is appropriate. Using "crazy" to negatively describe people with mental or emotional issues is what you should be bothered by. For another example: I can call you a jerk. That's not offensive to jerks, because no one wants to consider themselves a jerk. People with mental trauma or depression aren't crazy, but your rant is fucking crazy.
63
jorstvin @63,

You clearly haven't read Prozac Highway by Persimmon Blackbridge. A valuable book. You should check it out.
64
jorstvin @63,

See also: crazymeds.us, an early core reference for those of us with brain cooties.

"If you do need to take medication the math is really simple: which sucks less? Taking an imperfect medication that controls the symptoms of a condition that puts your life somewhere in the spectrum of “barely tolerable” to “dear God please kill me now;” or trying to get through life with that same condition which will keep getting worse the longer you go without treating it. A lot of these meds suck donkey dong, but you know what? When you’re mentally ill, and/or have some neurological problem like epilepsy or migraines, and you’re not taking any medications, or not taking the right medications, it sucks syphilitic donkey dong while a red-hot poker is being jammed up your ass.

You don’t think it’s that bad? That’s because you’re reading this site, which is on the Internet. Which means you have access to the resources needed to read it. Have you ever been homeless and crazy? I have. Twice. Have you ever been in a locked ward of a psychiatric hospital? I have. Before Medicare Part D-for-Defraud existed, which was also when all the meds I took were available only as brand, I ran up so much credit card debt paying for them I had to sell my house. But I was lucky, because:

I had a house to sell. Most of the mentally interesting don’t.
I also had credit cards, as do many of my fellow bipolar types do. And we often run them to the limit. At least I didn’t buy anything stupid.
I sold my house in 2004, so I got out of the real estate pyramid scheme before it all came crashing down on everybody.
And my experiences are nothing compared with the lives of people I saw around me. I’m a fucking poseur when it comes to the syphilitic donkey dong and red-hot poker meeting each other in my stomach. I may no longer be able to hold down a job, a relationship, or be moderately functional for wildly variable lengths of time, but I don’t live in a constant state of fear inside of a cardboard box.

So, if you really need meds and aren’t taking them, or taking them sporadically, or if you’re taking completely inappropriate medications, then you had better get ready. Falling into the abyss happens faster than you can imagine.

And it’s no picnic if you’re taking neurological / psychiatric medications when you shouldn’t be taking any at all."


So yeah, some really great people do call themselves crazy. You might think of the word as more akin to "faggot" than "gay," being sufficiently loaded that you probably should be one yourself to use it.
65
I suffer from depression, and I also know exactly what people mean when they say Crazy, and cannot think of a more appropriate term. I would agree with @62.
66
Nice non-apology, Dan.

On the other hand, it's 2016, I think there is broad consensus today that "crazy" doesn't mean a diagnosable mental illness of almost any kind (other than schizophrenia, I guess). Contrast to "retarded", which typically means "backwards/stupid/etc", but is also still commonly used to describe people with downs syndrome or low-functioning autistic people - and thusly is still considered rude or untoward or dare I say it not-classy.
68
I take issue with Emma using the word "asshole" as an insult. I have an asshole, and love it.
69
Fair point. Well presented. Good response.
70
No, it's not a good response. No one got my Patsy Cline reference and I'm pissed.
71
LateBloomer,

All Canadians of a certain age got it. Do you need a secret signal to let you know you scored?
72
Behaviour is what can be crazy, not the person. I don't self identify with a mental illness, take no meds etc., others might not concur with my self perception, I do know that over my life some of my behaviour has been crazy.
73
I don't think crazy is a terrible term but I do think that Dan isn't the best person to ask advice on mentally ill partners either. I think he treats their behaviour as if they were your standard arsehole. I have thought about asking him a question about my own relationship with a clinically depressed person but decided that it was a bad idea because his addled brains behaviour would undoubtedly put him in Dan's DTMF category which isn't helpful advice right now. I did however find a great book for everyone with a depressed partner and mentioning it here in case it helps someone it's called Depression fallout and helps to guide partners through one of the toughest things a relationship can go through. Supporting a depressed partner without ending up in the hole yourself.
74
I remember when
I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
75
originalcinner @31; and I bet you guys found new and inventive ways to get
" moist" into sentences. It is a very good word, and straight away, what does everyone think of?
76
I removed words like crazy from my vocabulary. It's easy enough. You can use words like "bizarre" or "ridiculous" or whatever. People with mental health issues are increasingly stigmatised.
77
So...wait...calling someone crazy isn't acceptable, but calling someone an asshole is? Using a body part that many people derive pleasure from as a slur seems far more damaging to me than using the word crazy.
78
@73,Anemone; Dan doesn't present himself as a psychologist.. He is a sex advice columnist. Hope things get better for you guys.
79
@71 Alison -- Ah! Whew. Well, I was hoping someone would riff on my "crazy for trying" line. When no one did I actually started crying....

Anyone? Anyone?
80
lava girl one of the biggest issues for depressed people is sex.
81
I got this one! LateBloomer, you're crazy for...uh...getting so upset.

Also, your creativity and rapier wit are a breath of fresh air here. Keep it up!
82
Oh Late, it's good to see you happy. A little crazy perhaps, but happy.
83
Crying, Late? Bit irrational and bizzaar behavioural response there.

Anemone@ 80. I imagine depression effects all of one's life affirming behaviours. Grief is what did me in, as a Buddhist though, I had the mental
tools to get myself thru it. The mind can be trained to think differently.
Dan is still not trained to deal
with issues of depression. My mother had extreme depression and ECT helped her. Something about the electrical charge, reset her mind.
84
Late@81, you're wife been coming across more then, that why you so frisky?
I hope it's not a secret lover giving you this bounce. You know, that would make me very very cross.
85
My thing with "crazy" is that it kind of excuses the person. Oh, they're crazy, they can't help it. But in most cases they can, and they should. The guy in the subway who yells at everyone about Jesus? Maybe crazy. Donald Trump/my best friend's ex/that chick down the hall in college? They're not acting or speaking reasonably, but they could if they wanted to make the effort. So they're just asshats.
86
"Look, I'm not one of those people who wants to nitpick every colloquial expression..."

....but then let me just go ahead an nit pick a colloquial expression.

For fuck sake.

You know when a comedian goes on stage and hope to "kill" he/she's not actually going to murder anyone. Nor are they endorsing homicide. I know! Crazy, huh?
87
LateBloomer: And I'm crazy for loving you.
88
Aw shucks nocute, don't be so hard on yourself. No shame in that.

(Thanks for not leaving me hanging.)
89
Okay, Dan, let's examine your logic. In your advice, when you call someone a "crazy, psycho, nutbag," what are you really saying? I think it's shorthand for, "a troubled soul whose psycho-sexual desires/symptoms/obsessions/needs are beyond my experience/understanding/training, so I haven't the foggiest how to deal with them beyond warning you to get away." So, maybe instead of saying this person is a "crazy, psycho nutjob," you just say, "Sorry, this one's problems are above my pay grade."
90
@89;Chaucer, Given how many questions seem to involve people with very questionable behaviour, Dan wouldn't be able to answer many if he followed your plan.
91
I've got a suggestion. If people don't like the words Dan uses in his podcasts, then don't listen to him. Simple solution.
92
Oh, Lava@91, there you go being logical again!
93
For folks dealing with mental health issues, including depression—which, given that millions of Americans suffer from treated and untreated depression, I have to assume makes up a stout percentage of your audience—words like these really sting!

As someone with a bona fide, diagnosed mental illness (Type 2 Bipolar Disorder, in case anyone is curious; as a side note, I wonder how people reconcile the supposed widespread and harmful stigma associated with mental illness with the lack of reticence so many of us feel in outing ourselves), I resent you purporting to speak for me. I further resent the implication that "crazy" in the colloquial sense applies in any way to my mental illness: I'm mentally ill, but I'm not crazy (most of the time - I definitely think crazy things or act in crazy ways sometimes), as in disproportionately and unpredictably irrational (irrationality is a universal human trait) and delusional. "Crazy" and "mentally ill" overlap, but there are people who are perfectly sane but still crazy (e.g. Republicans - mental illness is defined primarily by divergence from community norms, so people with normative delusions like religious beliefs or the belief that the free market is in any way fair are not mentally ill), and there are likewise mentally ill people who are not crazy.

I continue to question why it is the censorious members of a group that is (supposedly) implicated by a particular slur are considered authoritative as opposed to the members who don't have a problem with the language in question or even embrace it. I'm sick to death of this being labeled "ableist" language* in so many places (though not actually here, but this is a parallel case), especially as someone the designation is supposedly trying to protect.

Re: eumphemism treadmill - as ciods@57 notes, it just doesn't ever work. We have ample historical evidence, but one of the most striking might be the cycle of terms used to describe Black people. I've been reading a lot of James Baldwin recently, reminding me how "Negro" was once considered the polite/formal term, and of course the NAACP hasn't renamed itself to the NAAPOC to eliminate "Colored People" in favor of "People of Color". You can adopt new terms all you like, but until the group itself loses social stigma (which neither necessarily follows from nor requires changing language - look at "gay" and "queer", for example), all that will happen is the new term will take on the stigmatizing associations with the stigmatized group.

That said, I second tmsnl's suggestion @21: "cuckoo" is a really fun word. :-)

*for two separate reasons: ableism is discrimination on the basis of an irrelevant ability, not on the basis of relevant abilities, and the ability to respond to most situations in one's life with some semblance of reason and a reality-based worldview is almost always relevant; and I utterly disagree with the assertion that the term in common usage actually functions to denigrate people with mental illness