Toward more precise language
Letters to the Editor
8/23/2019, 6 a.m.
Re “University health services bracing for ripple effect from mass shootings,” Free Press Aug. 15-17 edition:
Your article quotes Dr. Darylnet Lyttle, director of the student health center at Virginia State University, saying, “We are at work to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues.”
I am certain the speaker does not want to “keep” some of that prejudice; she wants it ended. Sometimes our words do not have the precision we mean them to have. Words and phrases to which we have been exposed slip out. Habituated language introduces itself, sometimes in an unwelcome nature.
Words on paper are easier to craft. Reading offers a leisure of time that listening often does not afford.
How much does she want to keep? likely did not occur to listeners. Exposed to that metaphor on paper dozens of times, it does occur to me.
What the speaker is looking for is an end to associating mental illness and stigma, and not just that, an end to the various and numerous prejudices to which we have accustomed ourselves. We have not yet reached that point, that ending, though at times it seems as if we are on the very edge of being there.
In the 1970s, a small group of personally empowered women told us to stop declaring rape/stigma, we had done enough harm. We stopped. Precipitously.
I, now 82, recall no discussion, no objection. We heard, our consciousness raised, we stopped.
I am waiting for that to occur again. No discussion, no objection, our consciousnesses raised, we can stop again.
HAROLD A. MAIO
Fort Myers, Fla.
The writer is a retired editor for a mental health publication.