Social media has become a haven for “anti-’s”. “anti” is a preposition that means “opposed to; against”; for example, someone labeled as an anti-vaxxer would be opposed to vaccination. The phrase “anti-vax” has been around for quite some time, and the jargon seems to be growing.
Many conversations regarding health, health care and approaches to Medicine are taking place. It seems that every conversation about health ends up with two sides debating and the ones that question the status quo end up with an “anti-“ label. Anti is a term of convenience, an easy and arguably lazy way to group people into a category, often with the goal of discrediting the entire group. It lumps people into an "easy to identify", yet virtually non-existent group. It creates an “us vs them” mentality and creates divisiveness. No one actually fits in any of these groups.
Patients have different experiences regarding treatments, outcomes and either side effects or adverse events. When they share these stories, they sometimes become mis-labeled. For example, if a conversation is taking place with someone in the psychiatry field and a patient questions some of the current practices, they get labeled as “anti-psychiatry”. But there is arguably nobody that would self-identify as anti-psychiatry. Is "anti-psychiatry" another name for a patient who has been harmed and is sharing their story? Questioning a particular aspect of psychiatry or whether some blanket treatment approaches cause more harm than benefit for some patients does not mean someone is opposed to or against psychiatry. It means they have concerns or questions about one aspect of the field. No one fits into this category.
Anti- terms are often used in a broad brush attempt to silence a conversation. Here are some other popular ones:
Patients want their stories to be heard and they do need to be heard. They don't want others to suffer. They hope that by sharing their experience they are helping others to not suffer the same fate. Practitioners want to help patients keep and regain their health. For the most part, they are open to respectful conversation. They are not the enemy. Generally speaking, people who are using these labels are fighting with a non-existent “enemy”. It is something that has been made up. It is not patients, it is not practitioners, it simply doesn’t exist. When someone attempts to target others with an anti- label for doing so, it is derogatory and inflammatory. The targeted attacks against patients and health practitioners seems to be increasing, but so is the anger toward the mob mentality of the attackers.
These conversations need to happen. What doesn't need to happen is the us vs them divisiveness. I think it’s time for the Anti’s to "Say Uncle”.