TED Conversations

lisanna weston

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Labels belong to products

We live in a world of labels. In this wonderful world of labels, people found the need to extend the concept of labeling to the labeling of children.

We see a hyper six year-old girl who refuses to sit down and decide that she MUST have ADHD. If a twelve-year-old boy prefers to sit behind his computer rather than playing with his friends, he must have a social anxiety disorder.

20 million children are labeled with "mental disorders" that are based solely on a checklist of behaviors. There are no brain scans, x-rays, genetic or blood tests that can prove they are mentally ill, yet these children are labeled for life.

I myself have been diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 15. The moment I stepped into a psychiatric clinic I was labeled with a disease. After successfully passing the ‘ADHD-test’, a doctor asked me which medication I preferred. When I answered not to want any medication she looked up. “Then why are you here?”

Ken Robinson explains in a movie on TED.com, how school affects the creativity of children. We tend to focus on their mistakes rather than their qualities. Doctors act very similar by labeling children too soon.
Why must we jump the proverbial gun and assume that any time a child behaves outside what we consider normal for our society that there is a problem that must be immediately addressed? Why do we focus on the negative, not on the positive?

I am now 23 years old. Although people doubted my decision of not taking any medicines, they quickly accepted me as who I am. Label or not, they learned to focus on my qualities and started to use my bursts of creativity for a good cause. Their acceptance has helped me in accepting myself, something no medicine could ever do.

I do strongly believe the labels I talk about are legitimate medical conditions. I just happen to think that doctors need to take a closer look at the child’s environment and qualities before putting a label on it and treat him/her as a product! What is your opinion?


Closing Statement from lisanna weston

Thank you for your Great comments. The children of today are not the same children as 50 years ago. Talents are arising, and more and more kids tend to grow up quicker, learn faster, and have higher IQ's. Labeling is what we do to them to make us feel safe, to have something to hold on to, to be able to control something that we do not understand. We shouldn't try to chain something that we can't set free in the future!

progress indicator
  • thumb
    May 31 2012: these "mental disorders", adhd and the like, are nothing but coverups. they are designed to cover up the incompetence of schools to actually give useful knowledge to children, and the incompetence of parents to treat the child as an individual instead of the realization of their own dreams. in a collectivist society, being different is not acceptable. differences must be corrected. prepare for worse. as of now, the world is plunging deeper and deeper in collectivism.
  • thumb

    R H 20+

    • +1
    May 31 2012: We love to 'catagorize', don't we? It's like we don't really want to know, but need to 'put it somewhere' so we can refer to it when necessary. We 'label' people because we really don't want to hear the story, but we may need to 'deal' with them on some level. So we label them and act accordingly. We want to function in society, and function quickly and efficiently, so labels are convenient to 'manage' people. Our 'factory efficiency' mentality 'processes' people through the various systems, so they need to be 'identified'. Our hisorical systems seem to be inadequate for our post-postmodern knowledge and reality of individual complexity and right to exist, don't they? The labels work in reverse too. One could be labeled 'handsome','intelligent', 'going places', 'gifted', 'a good boy/girl' and have to live up to some standard of expectation they have absolutely no interest, desire, or possible ability to fulfill. The machine of society is not yet set up for organic development. The exclusivity of labeling keeps things simple and manageable, and can create a false sense of dimishment in the 'labelee', and an equally, if not greater, false sense of superiority in the 'labelor'. Hopefully, we will decide, as individuals, the standards we wish to live by and act accordingly, not necessarily as expected, and suprise them all.
  • thumb
    Jun 4 2012: Labels have a function. For example I can tell who authored this post by the label attached to it. It is not appropriate to use that label to determine any specific traits, beliefs, characteristics, motives, etc. of the author. Misuse of labels leads to sweeping generalizations.Pigeon holes are created, labeled and crammed full of whatever we think belongs in that bin. In this petri dish environment all manner of prejudice, injustice and polarization is bred. Labels are for purposes of identity to differentiate one from another. Labels are not code words which contain complete descriptions of who someone is. As you say, Ms. Weston, labels are generally misused to the detriment of society. Thank you!
  • thumb
    Jun 3 2012: I agree. If you look hard enough, everyone has a "disorder" mostly because nobody is normal.

    It's a hangover from our 20th Century habit of collecting empirical data and thin fitting it all around some "norm" or bell curve.

    It's a brave new world..
  • thumb
    May 31 2012: There is nothing wrong with "labeling", as long as we put it at the right (relevant) condition.

    Labeling could help us to connect possible abstract to another more focus understanding. It's like a pattern recognition. Labeling could make us clearer to specific boundaries and to figure condition or something urgent, and it will help us to quickly create appropriate decision to response an abstraction based on experience (research and more).

    Labeling would be very unhelpful when we use "a label" as a reflection of complete analysis. There should be at least second or more opinion to accompany first labeling. And we have to make further check whether one of two or more opinion become appropriate label in the future.

    Diagnosis something, actually has the possibilities that endless, and labeling can be used to narrow it.

    There should be active communication from ourselves to help profilers (doctor, psycholog and similar to these) get better pictures of our condition. If we are the profiler itself, we should treat labeling as http://www.ted.com/conversations/11490/can_we_divide_people_in_two_ca.html?c=464751

    The point is, labeling could be better or worst and it depends on many factors. We just have to know that labeling is the first step to get to know our condition, and further we should actively involved within its process, day by day, and more, until we get better adjustment for better result.

    Less or more ...