Mental Health Terminology Demystified

abandoned mental hospital night

Mental health is a world within a world, complete with its very own vocabulary. These idiosyncratic names, phrases and expressions may seem odd, even bizarre, to newcomers and outsiders alike. However, if you intend to successfully navigate the crooked concrete corridors that lead, eventually, to sanity – familiarity with this specialized lexicon is strongly advised.

Below is a list of commonly encountered mental health verbiage, followed by helpful definitions.

1. Cured
This term describes a patient whose health insurance has run out.

2. Tibet’s Syndrome
A patient who believes all mental health maladies can be cured by studying Eastern religion.

3. Mentalpause
The state of being that separates mental play from mental fast-forward. It is characterized by tropical island fantasies and irritability.

4. Paranormia
Paranormia describes an irrational fear of being abducted by aliens and forced to watch tedious, poorly produced movies of their summer vacations. It combines fear of the nearly impossible with resentment resulting from being disappointed by the nearly impossible, even though it hasn’t yet happened.

5. Gazebo Effect
The gazebo effect refers to a strategy in which a physician uses psychology to heal a patient. The patient’s normal medication is replaced with a sugar pill, or “gazebo”, without the patient’s knowledge. The patient is then instructed to sit in an English garden, preferably near a pond with swans. Since the patient believes they are still benefiting from the actual medication, they continue to get better, even though the only force healing them is the illusion that they are a gazebo.

6. Best Man-ic Depression
This rare, awkward condition describes what happens when the Best Man at a wedding considers his sorry existence, (a bleak contrast to the cheerful celebration surrounding him), and becomes so depressed he is completely incapable of performing his duties.

Instead of providing support he spoils the joyful occasion by reciting interminable passages from Nausea and No Exit by J.P. Sartre, all the while weeping voluminously as the bride and groom vainly attempt to console him.

7. Psycholalia
The weird sensation of living inside a giant echo chamber experienced by psychoanalytic patients who realize after some time that their psychiatrists simply repeat everything they say (followed, after an appropriate pause, by a thoughtful “Hmmmmm”.)

8. Sleep Appnia
Individuals who suffer from Sleep Appnia download apps to their iPhones while asleep. (See also Drunk Dialing.)
This is only a partial list, of course; I’ll demystify other mental health terms in blogs to come.