Thought for the Day

Friday, March 26, 2010

Diabetic, or Person with Diabetes?

This question comes up all the time. Is it wrong for people who happen to have diabetes to be called diabetics? Does that imply that diabetes is the most important thing about them?
Should I tell people that I am not a diabetic, I am a person with diabetes?
This post on I Run On Insulin prompted me to reply with a succinct description of my feelings on this topic.

Words like "diabetic" are not really that rare. I have heard celiac, hemophiliac, asthmatic, arthritic, etc.
Think of alcoholic, and all of the derived "holic" terms, workaholic, shopaholic, chocoholic, ...
Really, whenever we say someone is an addict, instead of saying they are a "person with an addiction" or "addicted person" aren't we doing the same thing we do with "diabetic" and diabetes?
Even "maniac" is a word derived in this way to describe someone with mania.
Think nymphomaniac, satyromaniac, egomaniac, etc.
Hardly rare.
I don't find "diabetic" offensive when used in the correct context, when it's appropriate. In a situation where it would be inappropriate to call me a diabetic, it would also be inappropriate to describe me as a PWD.

I hope that explains my position. Feel free to comment.


Mike said...

Great question, I prefer person living with diabetes although sometimes find myself reverting back to diabetic.

I guess diabetic doesn't totally turn me off, guess it just depends on my mood. Sometimes I think diabetic is like saying I'm white or Caucasian vs. someone living with white skin. Sorry, just playing devils advocate a little.

With that being said, I'm with you if asked I would prefer person living with diabetes thought.

Alexis said...

Your perspective totally made me think about it differently - I never realized that there were so many words that were descriptors like "diabetic." I definitely don't take personal offense to it, but I kinda like the idea of putting the person before the disease, even if its only for my personal satisfaction. Like Mike said too, I think I prefer "person with diabetes," but I find myself saying diabetic too, it seems situational sometimes.