This Video Explains Four Psychological Terms You May Be Misusing


We sometimes get in the habit of using psychological terms to describe different people, but there’s a good chance you’re using these words incorrectly. This video explains what the terms psycho, OCD, schizophrenic and bipolar really mean, and why you may not want to use them to describe someone.

These four terms are tossed around casually these days, and SciShow host Hank Green clarifies that these terms are for real psychological disorders that people suffer greatly from. Your ex is most likely not an actual psychopath, your roommate doesn’t have OCD just because they like things clean and organised, schizophrenics do not have multiple personalities, and bipolar is a serious mood disorder marked by emotional extremes, not just someone being upset.

So why might you want to avoid using these words? Besides the fact that they’re inaccurate in most cases, abusing these terms as casual metaphors minimizes these serious conditions and the people that actually have them. So you may want to take that into consideration the next time you want to complain about someone.

4 Psychological Terms That You’re Using Incorrectly [YouTube]


  • Are these not contradictory quotes (from the video)?:
    “True schizophrenia is pretty rare, affecting only about 1% of the population … one of the leading causes of disability in the world”.
    Please explain …

    • @ marioPS – while the comment about schizophrenia as ‘one of the leading causes of disability in the world’ may be slightly broad, in terms of the impact on the individual (their family & society) it can be very disabling. And while it is only about 1% of the population (which is a very big number of people), research has shown that this is remarkable consistent across nationalities, cultures and time.

      Comparing it to other mental health disorders, whilst they also can be extremely debilitating, the vast occurrences of these (like anxiety or depression) occur at at higher rate, but generally don’t have long term implications that schizophrenia can have. The often unremarked side of schizophrenia are the ‘negative symptoms’ which over time have also been linked to neurological degeneration (i.e. brain damage) and the episodic nature of schizophrenia often leads to many hospital admission (it costs over $1500 a day and more, for hospital admissions which can last for weeks).

      So while having a heart condition, diabetes, congenital or genetic conditions can all be disabling, the nature of mental illness and in particular schizophrenia starts at an early age, requires ongoing interventions and lasts a lifetime.

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