4 Psychological Terms That You’re Using Incorrectly


At some point, you’ve probably heard someone
call their emotional ex-boyfriend a psycho. Or maybe they said that their tidy roommate
had OCD, or their unpredictable neighbor was totally schizo, or their moody sister was
bipolar. We do this a lot…and let’s stop. Think about it this way…if your friend doesn’t
like sugar, you aren’t like “Ugh, he’s such a diabetic.” Just imagine saying “Oh!
My ex was a TOTAL cancer patient. He was sick ALL THE TIME!” Ughh! Many mental health professionals point out
that using diagnostic terms as misplaced metaphors for odd behavior, personality traits, or even
changes in the stock market ultimately minimizes serious conditions, and the people who have
them. So we’re here today to help clear up some
of these definitions, and explain why the weather isn’t schizophrenic, and how your
ex probably isn’t actually a psychopath. [Intro] First off, it’s important to understand
what “psychological disorder” really means to the experts. Psychologists define a disorder as a deviant,
distressful, and dysfunctional pattern of thoughts, feelings, or behavior that interferes
with a person’s ability to function in a healthy way. Now, let’s break that down: Deviant doesn’t
mean something like dastardly or raunchy — it just means something that’s different from
your general social norm. And that can be pretty broad; like, serial killers are deviant
from the norm, but so are geniuses and Olympians. So, to be classified as a disorder, those
deviant thoughts or behavior need to cause the person, or people around them, actual
distress, which pretty much means a feeling that something is… off. And that distress can turn into a harmful
dysfunction if it limits a person’s ability to live and work. Take anxiety, for example. It’s something
that we all have to some degree — getting the jitters before a first date or a big speech
in front of a crowd – totally normal. But being so distressed at the thought of
interacting with others that you actually can’t leave your house … then that’s a
disorder. So, your roommate does not have obsessive
compulsive disorder, or OCD, just because she can’t bear to have dirty dishes in the
sink. But she very well might if her compulsions are interfering with her ability to live a
healthy and happy life. OCD isn’t about being neat, or particular,
or just deciding that you really like the color orange and want to wear it a lot. It’s a serious, often debilitating condition
characterized by unwanted repetitive thoughts, which can be known as obsessions, and when
they’re accompanied by actions, those are called compulsions. For people with OCD, compulsive behavior can
be a way to try to relieve the intense anxiety that comes with obsessive thoughts — like
a fear that, say, if you don’t walk over and touch that light switch exactly four times,
something terrible is going to happen. Kind of puts the dirty dishes in perspective. And bee tee dubs, if you don’t wanna wash
your dishes and your roommate is mad at you, that is not their problem, because CLEAN YOUR
DANG DISHES, JEREMY, AND WOULD IT KILL YOU TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH ONCE A YEAR! Another term I’m sure you’ve heard — and
heard used incorrectly — is “schizophrenic.” Really not a suitable way to describe your
moody neighbor, just because he called the cops last week when your music was too loud,
but then came back a few days later with leftover birthday cake. That is not being schizophrenic — that’s
just a person being nice to you one day, and not nice another. True schizophrenia is pretty rare — affecting
only about one percent of the global population — and it’s probably the most stigmatized
and misunderstood psychological disorder of them all. And that might be why the term is so often
misused. We see the term “schizophrenia” used in the media all the time, to describe
political flip-flopping and fluctuations in the stock market, even eccentric celebrity
style choices. One study of the terms “schizophrenic”
and “schizophrenia” in US media found that 28 percent of references to the condition
were casual metaphors…usually about someone or something seeming to have multiple personalities. And guess what….schizophrenia has nothing
to do AT ALL with having multiple personalities. This myth may have its origin in the fact
that schizophrenia literally means “split mind”, because the condition is marked by
thoughts and behavior that are out of sync with a person’s actual surroundings and
situations. Their mind is split with REALITY…not with itself. People suffering from schizophrenia often
suffer from delusions, either of grandeur, like thinking you’re the Queen of England,
or of extreme paranoia and persecution — like thinking the CIA and the mafia – or both – are
out to get you. People who have schizophrenia are also likely
to suffer from hallucinations — that is, to see or hear something that isn’t there,
while lacking the ability to reliably judge what is and isn’t real. So, “schizophrenic” is not a synonym for
“inconsistent.” It’s a devastating disease and one of the leading causes of disability
in the world. Now, speaking of mood swings — as well as
things we shouldn’t use to describe superficial things, let’s talk about bipolar. You may
recognize it by its older name — “manic depression.” But like depression, bipolar is a type of
mood disorder. Our moods are basically long-term emotional
states that are pretty subjective and hard to pin down, but they usually fall within
two broad categories with very fancy technical names — good and bad. Mood disorders are marked by emotional extremes
and problems in regulating moods. So, the symptoms of depressive disorders include
prolonged feelings of hopelessness and lethargy, while bipolar disorders are typified by alternating
among depressive, manic, and what you might call more normal or stable phases — often
between phases multiple times a month, week, or even a single day. And keep in mind that mania isn’t about
being super happy, or energetic. A true manic episode is an intense period of restless and
often overly optimistic hyperactivity, during which your estimation of yourself and your
ideas and your abilities can often get really skewed. A person experiencing a manic episode might
start feeling awesome, but quickly start to show some seriously poor judgement as they
empty their bank accounts on shopping sprees. When they come down off that sleepless high,
they often fall, hard, into sometimes suicidal lows. Which brings us to our final, and perhaps
most popular psych term, mis-used since the days of Alfred Hitchcock: Psycho. Psychopathy is another outdated term — it’s
more often called sociopathy these days, but professionals know the condition more technically
as antisocial personality disorder. It’s probably the most extreme and severe
type of personality disorder, which are some of the most difficult disorders to diagnose
and, frankly, to live with. That’s mainly because, unlike most disorders,
people with personality disorders often aren’t aware of their condition. Sometimes, they
think it’s everyone else who’s got the problem. People with antisocial personality disorder
exhibit a lack of conscience, even towards friends and family members. Their destructive
behavior surfaces in childhood or adolescence, beginning with excessive lying, fighting,
stealing, violence, or manipulation. They basically don’t care about any negative
consequences of their actions, and because they lack the capacity for empathy, they don’t
give a dang about you, or anyone else. So even though we really love Benedict Cumberbatch,
his Sherlock Holmes was flat-out wrong when he described himself as a sociopath. I mean, just look at how he and Watson get
along. It’s adorable! Now, just what causes antisocial disorder
or any of the other disorders I’ve mentioned is complicated, and honestly we have a long
way to go in understanding it. Some conditions seem to be pretty clearly
linked to biological factors such as genetics and brain chemistry, while others seem to
stem from specific situations, or environmental factors, like stress or trauma. And some cases appear to have roots in both
causes: People could have a genetic predisposition to a condition that tends to run in families,
like schizophrenia, but may only have symptoms if they’re triggered by their surroundings.
If you want to learn more about these disorders and other scientific aspects of your mind,
you can head over to Crash Course, where we’ve been studying psychology all year.
But in the end, we’re not here to tell you how to talk — or, for that matter, what to
be offended by — we’re just all about understanding the world around us, including people. And
it’s probably fair to say that using clinical diagnoses to describe haircuts or dishwashing
habits only fuels the misunderstanding of mental illness. A final note…in general, when talking about
people with medical disorders, try not to let the disorder define them. Instead of saying
that someone is a schizophrenic, say that they have schizophrenia. It’s hard enough
to try not to become your disease when your disease is inside your brain; it’s even worse
when it’s inside everyone else’s too. So next time someone is annoying or alarming
you with their behavior, allow me to suggest a thesaurus. Thanks for watching this SciShow Infusion
— especially to our Subbable subscribers. To learn how you can support us in exploring
the world, just go to subbable.com. And as always, don’t forget to go to YouTube.com/scishow
and subscribe!

100 thoughts on “4 Psychological Terms That You’re Using Incorrectly

  1. Man. This video was pretty disheartening. I don't know many people who use mental disorders as insults but if it's really that common to call someone bipolar or a schizo I'm pretty disappointed in people. I'm diagnosed with bipolar and OCD and I can't believe people could be this misinformed about the true extent of mental disorders. I also want to make a correction to the video, antisocial personality disorder is not the same as sociopathy or psychopathy. Sociopathy is a less extreme version of psychopathy. People who are sociopaths have limited empathy and can kind of switch between having it and not having it verses people with psychopathy who have no empathy and cannot control it. Aspd is a totally different disorder that is a mix of sociopathy and personality disorders if I remember correctly.

  2. In my experience about how people (even psychology professionals) use some of terms: Psychopathy and sociopathy are different terms for two different types of antisocial disorders. Psychopaths are more difficult to spot and they have absolutely no ability to feel empathy and remorse.
    Sociopaths, on the other hand, can empathise with people, who are close to them. Sherlock is a nice example – good to Watson, but "somewhat evil" to everybody else.

  3. Thank You! It's so frustrating to see these mistakes made, with little opportunity to inform or correct them, and when the confused person is not open to explanations about why the behavior is not just inaccurate, but harmful.

  4. Schizophrenia is a terrible mental illness that makes life hell for both those diagnosed with it and their families! Mental illnesses are not shortcuts for people too lazy to express themselves properly!

  5. my, ex-friend who Iived with for a while, would scream at me for not doing my dishes, But I couldn't cause her dished were in the way and I got tired of having to do hers too, so I told her this.

    Than I moved out, as I realized the situation was toxic, and she was toxic.

    she had a mental illness and believed god cured her of it.

    it wasn't cured.

  6. Actually, what they said about psychopathy and sociopathy is oversimplified. It is true that psychopathy/sociopathy can mean anti-social personality disorder, but it can also stand for narcissistic personality disorder. There’s not just one type of psychopathy, there’s two. Some people call one psychopathy and the other sociopathy, while others call one factor one psychopathy and the other factor two psychopathy. One of them is closer related to narcissism and the other to anti-social personality disorder, but I forgot which one is which. I recommend the channel of Dr. Todd Grande if you want to learn more about that stuff.

  7. I'm still certain that my ex is a psycho. I've never once seen her express remorse or regret. She blames the people she hurts and takes pride in her mentality.

  8. schizo? i’ve never heard someone use that one

    ***i can tell what it means, but i’ve never heard someone use it like bi polar and ocd.

  9. Very nice, my dude, but sociopath isn't the same as psychopath. It's nature and nurture thing and psychopaths have an actual brain abnormality that causes them to act differently. If they were raised in a good home, they won't turn violent, but they'd still tell you to shut up when you cut your finger off because they're watching TV… sort of thing.

  10. There is probably a couple of exceptions but I never thought people use these terms to accurately describe something or someone. Do you know what I mean?
    I use words like "bipolar " "mentally ill" and "autistic" to describe in an exaggerated way something i find funny or am frustrated about. Maybe that is just me though.

  11. "Pretty rare, affecting only about 1% of the global population."
    Alert Oxford, 75 MILLION is now to be considered rare.

  12. If your room mate is super order like and is seriously distressed by dirty dishes or dust, she does not have OCD. Chances are she has OCPD, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Those two are very different things.

  13. While Psychiatrists were studying scizophrenia they wanted a way to describe children with scizophrenic symptoms so they coined the word = "autistic". "the autism spectrum" = the scizophrenic spectrum. "Aspurgers syndrom" = scizophrenics that have had positive influence and positive environment accepted by society. growing up i was the undiagnosed poster boy for "aspurgers syndrom".. innocently, odd, sarcastic, paranoid, sporadic, smart, respected, loved, liked, etc.. but once i got diagnosed as scizophrenic.. im hated by all like i "manipulated" them into thinking i was "normal".. idk for sure because NOBODY will talk to me about "it" to me..and if i as the right questions the land mines are placed are "your getting worst" "are you taking your meds?" "your meds arent balanced" "thats stupid" "go in the other room" "leave me alone".. now im hated like i forced them to "accept" my "oddities" for 40 years..im the last person in the world to claim being normal.. what ONE person can step forward and claim to be normal? anywho, id love to shout the fact that "HEY!! I TOLD YA IM NOT THE ONE THAT CHANGED! from the rooftops but i have scizophrenia syndrome..

    There isn't an autism spetrum, theres a scizophrenic spectrum.. "Sevants" are a whole different ball game..
    id love to have this spread globally but its more convieant to "let it go".

  14. Hahaha my god… Americans upset because people exaggerate. You know the real thing that is miss used in America? ''I'm offended''. Here's a character trait you really should understand and acquire if you want any chance of happiness. It's only offensive if YOU take offence.

  15. Even the way that OCD is described here is not really fair. There are reasons to do what we do BUT it is taken to the extreme and makes life pretty hellish. For instance if you know you need the hot water in the morning to wash your hands for 45 minutes then you need to be sure that you turned the water off… So you go check the sink and go lay down… and then you think "am I sure that was off?" and you get back up and check it again…. Back to bed…. Then "are you really sure?" "yes I am sure I already checked twice" "Okay but would you rather go ahead and check again or be wrong and not have hot water in the morning?" ….. Zoloft has changed my life. Amazing stuff.

  16. Another one that I've heard is "anorexic". Mainly, talking to a thin person. A person can be thin but not have an eating disorder, and an overweight person can ust as well have one.

  17. I love this video because I have OCD, and schizoaffective bipolar type 1. And I hate people who use my condition as the butt of a joke

  18. Could you do one of these for narcissit? That seems to be banded about pretty freely these days by people who have no idea what it means.

  19. Yes, people would have to have OCD to not want to live in filth and die of something that could have been prevented through keeping clean… Sorry, but people trying to normalize their own laziness by saying us non-slobs have OCD is truly disgusting – to both us and those who have OCD.

  20. A HUGE one you missed is people saying "antisocial" (which means psychopath) when they actually mean "asocial," or even just "introverted" or "shy."

  21. I have an ex that would refer to ANY matter I discussed in detail as my “Beautiful Mind”; yes as in the movie about schizophrenia.
    It was pretty irritating to have my entire psyche summed so glibly up by a guy that dismissed any subject I considered serious …turns out he was an ideological trumpper before trump was a thing, but I only figured that out once I became a Democrat and feminist. Internalized misogyny is a real thing, but yay me for escaping!

  22. Just because something runs in family's does not mean it's genetic.

    We still don't know what gene is linked to schizophrenia.

    If something runs in family's it could still always be from stress or trauma.

    The idea that it runs in family's prove genetics is false
    when we don't know what gene causes it.

  23. Wait… but calling your sister a diabetic for not liking sugar, or calling your ex a cancer patient for being sick all the time is pretty funny. How about I just start saying that also to preserve consistency?

  24. So literally anything is psychological disorder depending on your view of social norms or even the mores standard to the area (let’s remember how most of the world sees homosexuals). It’s almost like people are trying to make sense of BS by incorporating it into common vernacular. But no your right, nothing gives you insight into the human condition like a PhD.

    Psychology is the dirtiest lexicon you’ll ever use to make yourself think your more normal than other people.

  25. I have autism, and I prefer "autistic person" rather than "person with autism"

    mental illnesses shape who we are, whether we like it, or even know it, most permanent illnesses impact every single aspect of our lives. We are constantly told not to let our illness or disability define us, but I disagree. My autism has influenced my life so greatly that in a sense, it has defined me.

    I don't think people should let their disabilities control their lives, but for me, other people realising that autism is not something I can just turn off makes life so much easier.
    To me, saying "person with autism" is like saying "person who runs" or "person who is vegan"
    But you can stop running, and you can stop being a vegan. You can't stop being autistic.

  26. I always appreciate it when someone actually knows what antisocial means. It bothers me to no end every time someone uses it wrong.

  27. I should note that OCD comes in many forms, sometimes it's mild. It's like a habit that gives you a restless feeling if not done or done right. For others it's debilitating to the point of not being able to function.

    You don't have OCD if you like your socks in matching pairs, and get annoyed when you lose one. You don't have OCD if you like your bench to be wiped with antibacterial spray because you don't want to risk infection.
    It is OCD if you count and recount your socks before and after washing them and feel genuine stress about losing one. It is OCD if you will not eat anywhere but your own home because you don't know if it's safe, even if their house is spotless, you'd rather starve.

    I have mild-moderate OCD, I have very specific rules but it's not debilitating, like I have a real fear of raw flour. And my rules around food and kitchen hygiene are defiantly up there, so I always cook in my flat so I know it's safe or I have to watch my dinner being made so I know if it's safe. I just have to work around my issues but it doesn't get in the way of my life.

  28. Man, "he doesn't like sugar, such a diabetic!" is the best thing I've ever heard!!
    Thank you!
    Yes, it's all in our brain. Just like lung cancer is all in someone's lungs, and arthritis is all in someone's joints. It's an organ, like all others…
    It drives me so insane that damn double standart!..

  29. I'm so tired of people on the internet complaining about how OCD they are, or how some off pattern is triggering it. No, you're just an attention seeking drama queen.

  30. So… Ted Bundy wasn't a sociopath?
    He used to get along with his wife and a bunch of other people
    waaaaaaay better than Sherlock and Watson, who were always fighting.

  31. People may misunderstand psychological terms but it's not like they are misunderstanding scientific terms. It's not like psychology is a science.

  32. The kind of ultrarapid/ultraradian cycling you describe is extremely rare among bipolar patients, although widely believed by the public to be the case. Anything over 4 episodes a year is considered rapid cycling, anything once a week is ultrarapid, and ultraradian is 24 hours or less, with less than 24 hours being extremely, extremely rare. More normal cycling is over months.

  33. (I.E. 4:52) I fking LOVE How Hilarious your delivery of simply-idiotic explanations & seemingly-obvious fact-stating can be..!!!!! YOU'RE FKING AWESOME!!!!!

  34. I had no idea that people used the term Schizophrenia to describe politics and the stock market of all things. It’s horrible!

  35. As a psychopath I find this hilarious.
    A good one people misuse that bothers me is antisocial.
    I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and ptsd.

    I had a slight OCD for awhile…. I had a bad experience while using drugs. Afterwards I obsessively would wash my hands over and over and over again. In addition I kept opening water bottles and then not drinking it and having to open another one. These behaviors along with others did cause me some distress. I basically became a total germophobe after I had a bad reaction while taking drugs that had never happened before. I likely had something in there and my my reaction was due to the anxiety the reaction itself gave me.

  36. DSM-V is the clinical dictionary used to classify and identify mental disorder and conditions in the USA – it is updated every 10 to 15 years – in the European Union a different system is used to classify mental disorders and conditions. the DSM-V+ will one day be replace by the DSM-VI and then DSM-VII the DSM is an acronym for "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" and it is published by the American Psychiatric Association….its usually a standard medical textbook for psychiatric medical students and can be bought as a used college text book for cheaps instead of buying it for at retail from Amazon…which is sort of expensive…

  37. Long ago a psychiatrist got successfully sued in the USA for calling a Republican candidate Barry Goldwater mentally sick – so now there is a gag order on all USA licensed professional psychiatrist (APAsection 7) not to identify a political figure with a psychiatric condition — this ban is called the Barry Goldwater Rule — but non APA professionals are free to call Trump a psycho ….hahahahahaahaahahahahaha

  38. Most comments are people complaining, complaining, complaining. It's almost a cheap trick to find a topic a lot of people would complain about.

  39. My friend has pretty bad OCD. He used to spend several hours a day worrying about keeping his hands clean and refuse to participate in anything with a chance of contamination. He went to therapy and he’s a little better now, but it’s still pretty bad.

  40. Another one that gets misused often is PTSD. Usually when I hear some ignorant comment misusing the illness it causes me to roll my eyes and groan internally. Though sometimes, it takes a lot of effort to either control myself from not having an angry outburst or to start going through the mental tools my trauma specialist has helped me develop in order to suppress an oncoming panic attack. The flippant use of the word "triggered" is also annoying, as the majority of people have absolutely no idea what that truly means on a psychological level. Just because you were confronted with a situation that hurt your sensibilities and/or offended you does not mean that you were "triggered".

  41. 1:47 I have a mixture of anxiety disorder and panic disorder. I feel anxiety a lot. But each anxiety anxiety attack feels different. Some are paranoia, some are terror, some are sad, and some are worried. I am also autistic. No I really am.

  42. Everything is great, except one problem at approximately 4:50. There aren't good or bad moods. There's positive affect and negative affect, but labeling one as good or bad undermines the adaptiveness and healthiness of feeling anxiety and sadness to an extent (i.e., when one is actually in danger, or there's a threat to pro-social belonging). Emotions just exist on a spectrum of adaptive-maladaptive or healthy-unhealthy. The goal of therapists and clinicians isn't to remove "bad" emotions, but rather to bring them back into an adaptive (healthy) range so that a person can live a fulfilling and meaningful life as they (and to an extent others) perceive it

  43. Yeah I have an obsession this time of the month. The word”rent” keeps repeating in my head. I know it’s foolish and nothing to worry about. If I just ignore it it will go away.

  44. I congratulate you on a straight to the point video. As someone who suffers from Anti-Social Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder NOS as well as PTSD. I really don't care how people use terminology. A day late and a dollar short honestly. I started getting diagnosed when I was 8, I'm 36 now. Ton of time in state institutions, actually living somewhat of a normal life. However, For the newly diagnosed, this is correct. They are already going to feel alienated. Please do not make it worse. It's rough enough as is and that not even getting into the medication aspect.

  45. Just use the word Human…That pretty much covers it…

    However, don't use that term with or around animals…That would be inhumane… 😎

  46. Thank you for bringing attention to the negative effect the casual misuse of these terms has on society. A student of mine developed schizophrenia her final year in school. It was a heartbreaking experience. Most of her paranoia and hallucinations involved her younger brother, who adores her. The things she accused him of would just gut him. I can only imagine how hard it is for him to hear people throw that term around while his sister is truly suffering.

  47. Pretty sure I've been using them correctly. There's just a disproportionate number of bipolar, schizophrenic psychos in my life.

  48. Thank you for this! Please could we add triggered to the list? As someone who is dealing with CPTSD, I can assure people that actually being triggered is VERY different than disagreeing with someone or being upset by something that someone else says or does.

  49. The only time I use these terms without diagnosis is when I say I have OCD tendencies. Occasionally I need to do something before I can move on. I never say I have OCD because I don't.

  50. I tend to tell people that I seem more psychotic as compared to my peers but many dismissed it, saying that they have met or are crazier and more insane than I am. However, I seem to express more symptoms more regularly/all the time. I like how this video tackles the difference between the actual disorder and the media's portrayal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *