Over on Clinical Psychiatry News, we had a reader complain about our column title --Shrink Rap News. He felt it was odd and offensive to use the term Shrink when people have worked so hard to reduce stigma. I countered with the article there called "The Stigma of Being a Shrink" to discuss how we came to the title Shrink Rap for our work, and that the term "shrink" just didn't strike me as one which would alter care for our patients or leave us being seen in a negative light. It's been 8 years of Shrink Rap -- the name has worked for us in the form of 3 blogs and a book, and well, shrink is one syllable while psychiatrist is 4 and psychiatrist does not lend itself to any cute puns or double meanings. We're also not the only Shrink Rap or Shrink Wrap or Shrink Wrapped.
So I thought I'd ask you: Is the term Shrink offensive? Does using it alter the care our patients receive? Should it be abolished from the jargon the way we no longer use terms such as Lunatic? Or the way we might like to get rid of words such as Crazy?
I'm against stigmatizing people because of all sorts of things -- mental illness is only one of them. I don't think anyone wants to be obese or have a drug or alcohol addiction, but some members of society seems to be okay stigmatizing those folks (--they could eat less and avoid their substances, apparently, if only they so chose...). Calling a professional a 'shrink' -- I want to say "lighten up," but I'm all ears. Not promising to change our blog name by any means, but what do you think?
And while we're talking about stigma -- there was a terrific article by Allen Frances over on the Huffington Post. He notes, "Never has there been less stigma for having mild psychiatric problems, but never has there been more stigma for having severe ones."