Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 23, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY


Letter to the Editor: Term ‘stigma’ is a verbal assault

Writing is no easy craft. All words have meaning, impact. Some have powerful impact.

We do not always choose the words we use. There are times, through habituation, long cultural exposure, redundantly repeated usage, that words choose us. We unwittingly accept, not choose, them. There are times that unquestioned authority speaks through us, and there are times, as writers, we must learn to question that authority.

These words appeared in a recent article in your paper, “There is a stigma to…” I have left the phrase deliberately unfinished. What words follow is of less importance than those quoted.

Never do I lend credence to a claim of “stigma,” history has made that very clear to me.

Late in the 20th century the Women’s Movement told us to put an end to the deliberately hurtful mind game, rape/stigma. It had reigned for centuries and viciously imposed itself upon assault survivors. Assault is the accurate descriptor, sometimes brutal assault, sometimes assault through threat, intimidation, but always assault.

And for generations those assaults were followed by another: Verbal Assault.

“The stigma of…” is a verbal assault. Whoever directs it, and no matter at whom, it is a verbal assault. One does not cooperate in that assault, one confronts the person/persons, authority/authorities committing it. One does not emulate them, one educates them.

Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor
8955 Forest St.
Ft Myers, FL 33907
[email protected]