Mental health and Language: Kanye West slammed for using word ‘spaz’ in new song by disability charity

Kanye West has been criticised for using the word spaz during his rap on Four Five Seconds, which sees him collaborate with Rihanna and Sir Paul McCartney.

Mirror, February 2015

The lyric is: “Then I heard you was talkin’ trash, hold be back I’m ‘bout to spaz

How often have you found yourself or heard someone using terms like:

“Feeling a bit crazy today”
“They are off their rockers”
“Watch that one they are a complete and utter psycho”
“I’m a little bit OCD”
“Lost my marbles”

Language is a huge part of our lives and yet I wonder how much time do we really give to thinking about what we are saying? Many of the phrases above have become every day lingo and have no real intention to cause harm or offense to anyone.

However, are we being as neutral as we think we are? Many of these expressions dismiss the true anguish and distress that 1 in 4 of us will experience.

Now if we take a worldwide role model, in this example Kayne West. What does it say when he decides to use a word such as Spaz? What message does this suggest to his fans? Just because he is comfortable using this word does it mean the rest of the world is? And even though his explanation for the word might differ from the original definition, how can we ever been sure that everyone agrees with this new definition or is even aware of it?

The fact is stigma isn’t something that ONLY affects the ignorant and arrogant, we all stigmatise! As a result we ALL need to be more aware of the language we use, their origins and the stereotypes they hold. Most importantly we should ALL be aware the impact language can have on others.

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