During the course of last week’s meeting in Morwell, and indeed at other stops along my road-trip, people have shared my concern about the way we continue to redefine words to suit a broader perspective, to be more inclusive, or even to be politically correct.  The impact of this is subtle, but by redefining our words, we are actually redefining our culture.  ‘Mental illness’ is now the latest casualty.

Confucius once wrote: When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.  This has been a key campaign slogan…. and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see how this is playing out in society today.

The word family is being squeezed into a new shape, the word rainbowhas taken on new meaning, the Judeo-Christian heritage is out andAbrahamic faiths are in. (Interesting concept – was Abraham a man of many faiths?)

More recently, the definition of racism has been expanded to include gender and religion; something most can see has nothing to do with race at all. And while embryologists, who study life and should know, refer to the ‘continuum of life’ it is politically expedient to redefine life as something that occurs after birth.

With this redefining comes a loss of freedom. Freely reaching our own conclusions about these social issues has been removed from families and relegated as a matter for the state. The state is increasingly dictating morality. We are no longer free to reach conclusions about family even when affirmed by natural law; this is considered a narrow view of family.  We are no longer free to voice views suggesting that rainbow families promoting same-sex parenting may not in reality offer the promise presented by this very loaded positive imagery. We no longer are free to enjoy an inalienable right to life – this is only for those already born. We are not free to dispute the theological origins of this notion of Abrahamic faiths; this would be vilifying to another religion. Historicity must bow to ideology.

And now we have mental illness being redefined in the same way as the word racism. It’s been broadened of course to be more inclusive. Just asracism will now catch all those considered to be homophobes and Islamophobes in the net, consequently increasing litigation and shutting down free speech by branding more concerned Australians as racist, the outcomes expected by this new definition of mental illness are just as disturbing.

According to Age journalist Amy Coorderoy this broader definition may mean more people receiving unnecessary labeling and unnecessary treatment, (Autism increased 2,000 per cent simply by changes to its definition); it may also mean more costs for employers facing workers compensation claims for ‘mental stress’, therefore less risk-taking by employers and more legal challenges. “The net result for employers will be more money and higher costs”. [1]Great.

Employers will not have the same freedom to employ, they will rather be ruled by fear of future workers claims.

We should all be concerned about mental health and we should all be concerned about families and life itself. But it seems to me that the most likely outcome of this social engineering by redefining words will be more people more tightly bound in a net only offering less freedom and greater costs.  How will this really assist mental health, and more importantly, what is it doing to us as a society?



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