• Gisèle Schembri

Why Labels Do Matter

Updated: Mar 29

We live in a world where everything and everyone is labelled and there is a harsh opposition to this coming from different bodies of people who strive for equality in all its forms. This extends even to psychological AND spiritual labelling by those who are supposedly working to understand and better the psychological and spiritual well-being of people.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that just because I will, in this article, be disagreeing with those campaigning to remove labels, I feel that they are not doing the right thing by their standards. Neither am I implying that they are trying to thwart rather than help set the correct notions for the individual’s growth, since supposedly labels do stunt people from doing their best by relying on said labels as an excuse for how things are.

The thing is, even as all these professionals in their fields are trying to inspire everyone to feel equal and able, they are failing to see that labels can actually be beneficial across all spectrums of life too.

Labels, according to them, put people in boxes. Boxes that judge, that limit, that make a person feel defeated before trying, giving the person an excuse to not try to grow. Contrary to this belief, I see labels as a way for a person to see where they are at and what are the obstacles they need to overcome, work around or even work with, as the case may be.

Boy am I tackling a tricky subject today!

A ‘label’, according to the dictionary, indicates a ‘category or classification’. It divides people by race, religion (or lack of) and politics to start with. In these cases, the label is factual and gives not much information apart from to class a person as belonging to this or the other group.

However labels that are psychological or spiritual in nature (please note here that spirituality is totally different to religion) carry with them significant weight. They don’t state a classification for its own sake like with the previous types but rather tries to explain particular sets of traits depending on the label one pertains to. Yes I do say ‘pertains’, assuming in this way that labels make sense and should be used.

Why? Because much like a health diagnosis is instrumental to finding a likely remedy, by examining the traits and subsets that seemingly stunt a person, you can then pinpoint the positives and negatives and even the assumed, logical and most likely results that will occur from pertaining to that ‘group’, as I would call a label at this point. By accurately labelling, one can, so to speak, make informed decisions, by having all the cards laid out in front of him. Only by knowing the limitations and psychological wiring, as well as how those relate to any or a particular situation, can one then start on looking for a solution to what was previously, by those objecting to labels, being perceived as a ‘problem’ (which they don’t want people labelled with).

No one wants to be labelled as ADHD for example, and parents often feel unnecessary shame when ‘admitting’ they have children who ‘suffer’ from a ‘disorder’. Put this way, of course the label is cruel, unnecessary and counterproductive! But let’s say that with ADHD in mind, a teacher or Learning Support Assistant, can understand better where the child is coming from and the why to their behaviour, then they can also better understand what needs to be done to give that child all the help necessary to be able to excel in class anyway, if through different channels than those adopted by other children.

This was a very simple and common case that I have mentioned here. However any and all labels can help in the same way: by laying out the current factual situation, so to speak, and therefore make it clearer what course of action would best benefit the person in question in helping to overcome any and all limitations of the label itself.

Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay


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