Schizophrenia and Prescriptive Drift

Whenever I hear the word “schizophrenic” used to refer to multiple personality disorder–or even as a metaphor for having divided opinions–it sounds wrong to me. I’m not being pedantic. It just sounds weird, like someone saying, “I had a nasty stomach grippe last week” or “It’s so hot here in this tanning booth that I’m afraid I’ll get the vapors”.  I have a sense that the multiple-personality sense of the word has waned over the course of the past twenty years, ceding ground to the medically correct one both for me personally and among English speakers in general. Presumably this is because others have been pedantic about it, which would be interesting because it would be a rare victory for linguistic prescriptivism, but I can’t verify any of this.  It’s just a hunch. Though I’m curious if it’s a hunch that others share.

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One Response to Schizophrenia and Prescriptive Drift

  1. I have the same impression; OTOH, I’m married to a psychotherapist who is quite clear on the differences.

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