Deconstructing Diagnosis

Image by David Andrew Copeland, Dr. Mordcai Blau,

Conceptual and social innovation is needed in devising far better terminologies and numerical measurements in the stead of demeaning physionomistic categories and relatively prejuducial terminologies as based on oppressive dichotomies.

Physionomistic categories despite being socially constructed tend to gain a seemingly intuitive impression in culture, a process which is also known as naturalization, whereby the culturally particular is discursively made to seem universal by means of falsely seeming obvious.

While hegemonically established physionomistic categories are certainly deconstructible has it turned difficult to subsequently publicly discredit them. Why this is so is certainly an important matter of inquiry. Changing the name of a physionomistic category or supplanting it with a differently constructed physionomistic category has mostly not proven particularly difficult though. Yet discrediting a physionomistic category without creating something else in its stead may in fact not be terribly effective to put things mildly.

Since we need terminology to describe categorical difference between persons (including as describing prejudice relating to categorical difference) is the real question how such terminology really ought to look like.

What we need to do is something as revolutionary as supplanting letters with numbers. E.g. IQ measurement as based on numbers representing individual IQs is quite intuitive and typically does not carry stigma. Numbers are much less emotionally loaded than letters and so numbers are therefore effective in removing stigma. E.g. genitalia could be measured on a scale of hyperfeminine to hypermasculine with intersexed genitalia in between in thus effectively supplanting the gender mythology of binary anatomy. Using numbers rather than names consisting of letters would in fact carry little to no stigma.

Most diagnostic phenomena can be measured in the human population as spectrums by means of scales from 1 to 100. Whether medical or other intervention is needed would be determined by a number on a scale as outcome of measurement.

Since eventually virtually every human being would be on multiple scales would there be little to no socio-linguistic stigmatization of persons due to placement on a scale since everyone will be part of scales of personal measurement. However, not every condition can be measured on a scale and so other numerical measurements will be needed such a using various graphs and numerical calculations.

Supplanting stigmatizing letters with non-stigmatizing numbers will subvert the normal/abnormal dichotomy whereby certain persons are stigmatized as purportedly deviant. There would simply be measurements to determine whether there is need for medical care.

Current names for purported or actual pathologies need to be supplanted with new easy and friendly names for scales, graphs, calculations etc. and pathology would simply be indicated by numerical positions. The numerical position of pathology would be different on different scales so as to avoid that any particular number becomes associated with stigmatization of persons. It is precisely essential that terms for scales, graphs, calculations etc. are chosen in ways that will avoid interpersonal stigmatization.

This will effectively largely erase terms of stigma which will increasingly disappear due to sounding prejudicial and certainly impolite. What is therefore essential is to erase stigmatizing physionomistic categories as terminology and supplant them with far more exact measurements. We will no longer refer to persons who are this or that, but rather to medical measurements indeed.

This can and should indeed be applied in erasing physionomistic categories generally. E.g. a scale from 1 to 100 can measure pigmentation in untanned skin tone. Pigmentation in eye color and pigmentation in hair color could likewise be measured on such scales. Size of glans in clitoris/penis could be measured on such a gender-neutral scale and the size of breasts could likewise be measured on a gender-neutral scale. Replacing physionomistic categories with numerical measurements will help discursively limit those measurements to contexts where these are strictly speaking relevant and certainly not used as invented social categories as deployed in many contexts where such distinctions ought be entirely irrelevant indeed.

Medical measurement need obviously be strictly voluntary except in medical emergencies and as numerical measurements will be far more individually precise than clumsy physionomistic categories will thus drastically increased precision in medical measurement help ensure far better targeted medical treatment as well.

There will still however need to be words to describe interpersonal difference and it is therefore essential that the supplanting terms are easy and intuitive to use. Transgender and cisgender as terminology distinctly refer back to to current hegemonic terminology and so does terms such as LGBTQI and BDSM. In all cases are those terminologies that precisely subvert current cultural hegemony and are in fact intended as such. Yet what if we were to create and establish new inclusively, yet critically tolerant cultural hegemonies rather than merely subverting current ones? Would not strictly gender-neutral pronouns be more practical, successful and certainly more effective than individual pronouns despite not everyone initially being happy about it?

Would terminology denoting and visualizing diversity as opposed to expressing physionomistic dichotomies also be inappropriate? We should definitely design new terminology to express diversity without oppressive interpersonal dichotomies. After all, why is there no gender-neutral terminology for referring to a person with androgenic facial hair?

There is tremendous diversity in genders and hence innovative terms are needed as denoting diversity in genders. One way (albeit surely not the only way) to do this would be to innovatively combine morphemes such as with the English gendering term tomboy (tom = male cat) which originally referred to “a boisterous boy”, later “an immodest woman” and ultimately “a girl who acts like a boy”. Yet gendering terminology should certainly be designed/redesigned to be anatomically neutral. The term tomboy should thus become once more redefined in referring to particular gendered behavior in persons irrespective of anatomy.

We clearly need to creatively engage in conceptual innovation in order to come up with much better terminological options that are not merely reflective of mere simplistic opposition to current physionomistic terminologies (meaning opposition through terminological reverse discourse). We also need to comparatively study how modes of persons are variously denoted in various cultures and languages around the world. We ought to be brave in e.g. eliminating grammatical gender in most contexts except where very extremely strictly consensual such as in certain intimate contexts where this would be acceptable by full and explicit mutual agreement.

We need to look at the big picture and not merely the parts in devising language policy as intent on avoiding transmission and disrupting perpetuation of physionomistic bias in language while in no way preventing thorough public debate on every issue. New terminology should thus not limit public discussion but rather enable public discussion without prejudice indeed.