Ewan Aitken: The dangers of the labels we apply

Ewan Aitken, the CEO of Cyrenians – Inspiring Change, a Scottish Charity that promotes inclusion for those who have ‘fallen out of society’ in some way, has written a short article on the potential dangers of labels that we apply to people.  Labels can be a double-edged sword, whether that be in terms of diagnosis, or putting people into categories like “homeless”, “having substance misuse problems” or broader terms like “elderly”.  Some people find these labels helpful – or a relief, especially when it comes to an illness.  But at the same time, there is a risk that we can start “playing the role” of the category we’ve been given – limiting us to what we’ve been told we are and potentially opening ourselves up to the stigma associated with that category.

He writes:  “And then there were labels; time and time again folk railed against the labels of multiple and complex needs, clients, customers, referrals, service users etc., and all the other deficit ions, descriptions and categories that are expressions of services not people. As one of the opening speakers put it, “I am none of those things; I am Lindsay – mother, partner, sister, daughter, friend, colleague”.  You can read the full article here.

Do you find categorisation, labels or diagnoses helpful or harmful?  Is there a little bit of both?  Tell us about your experiences using the comment box below!  

Do you have any ideas about setting up a workshop, class, or writing an article?  Is this issue important to you and do you want to do something about it?   Get in touch with us on the About Us page and let’s see if we can work together to make it happen!

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