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My Editorial Petard

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For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar'; and 't shall go hard

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
William Shakespeare

In the bard’s immortal words, ain’t no fun to be hoisted on one’s own petard. (Well, okay, I may be paraphrasing a bit.) I am referring to a call I received by an astute professional at a South Florida office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to gently chide me for using a phrase that I explicitly detailed in a recent newsletter as an editorial no-no. It was in one of this month’s Caregiver Thought Leader interviews that the crime occurred.

The interview was with Mike Fitzpatrick, NAMI’s Executive Director, and the words I used were “schizophrenic caregivers,” which by itself is a confusing phrase, but worse yet, that I said it right after using the correct phraseology of “a loved one who was living with schizophrenia.” Not wanting to believe that I could be such a knave as to break my own rule, I hastily sought out the truth by looking at the initial interview files and, lo and behold, she was right.

Now I am having some fun with the little Shakespeare I could muster, but she was right and I truly appreciate the call out. Words and actions can hurt, can influence the way we treat and feel about people, and should be carefully chosen.

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