Dear Drs. Ashcraft and Anthony,
I understand the underlying concerns addressed in your article in the April issue (“Tools for Transforming Language,” p. 10). However, we do have to be careful that we do not oversimplify our efforts to the point that we do not paint a clear picture of the individual(s) we are addressing. For instance, take your example (and I assume it was just an example) of using unique in place of crazy. That would leave much room for interpretation, although I would not suggest using crazy. But there are better terms to describe both diagnostic impression as well as true diagnosis.
It reminds me of those who would describe an adulterer as an immoral person. That, too, would leave much room for interpretation. If we continue to water down our terminology for the sake of avoiding terms that may hurt an individual's feelings, we also take the risk of keeping them from facing the real problem or concern, and dealing with it in a realistic manner.
Ed Tedder, Executive Director, The Shepherd's House, Inc. Lexington, Kentucky