Mental Health Terminology Demystified

August 17, 2011 Alistair McHarg

Mental health is a world within a world, complete with its very own vocabulary. These idiosyncratic names, phrases and expressions may seem odd, even bizarre, to newcomers and outsiders alike. However, if you intend to successfully navigate the crooked concrete corridors leading eventually to mental health, familiarity with this specialized lexicon is strongly advised.hieroglyphic-alphabet1

Below is a list of commonly encountered mental health verbiage, followed by helpful definitions.

1. Cured

This term describes a patient whose health insurance has run out.

2. Tibet’s Syndrome

A patient who believes all mental health maladies can be cured by studying Eastern religion.

3. Mentalpause

The state of being that separates mental play from mental fast-forward. It is characterized by tropical island fantasies and irritability.

4. Paranormia

Paranormia describes an irrational fear of being abducted by aliens and forced to watch tedious, poorly produced movies of their summer vacations. It combines fear of the nearly impossible with resentment resulting from being disappointed by the nearly impossible, even though it hasn’t yet happened.

5. Gazebo Effect

The gazebo effect refers to a strategy in which a physician uses psychology to heal a patient. The patient’s normal medication is replaced with a sugar pill, or “gazebo”, without the patient’s knowledge. The patient is then instructed to sit in an English garden, preferably near a pond with swans. Since the patient believes they are still benefiting from the actual medication, they continue to get better, even though the only force healing them is the illusion that they are a gazebo.

6. Best Man-ic Depression

This rare, awkward condition describes what happens when the Best Man at a wedding considers his sorry existence, (a bleak contrast to the cheerful celebration surrounding him), and becomes so depressed he is completely incapable of performing his duties.

Instead of providing support, he spoils the joyful occasion by reciting interminable passages from Nausea and No Exit by J.P. Sartre, all the while weeping voluminously as the bride and groom vainly attempt to console him.

7. Psycholalia

The weird sensation of living inside a giant echo chamber experienced by psychoanalytic patients who realize after some time that their psychiatrists simply repeat everything they say (followed, after an appropriate pause, by a thoughtful “Hmmmmm”.)

8. Sleep Appnia

Individuals who suffer from Sleep Appnia download apps to their iPhones while asleep. (See also Drunk Dialing.)

This is only a partial list, of course, and we will demystify other terms in blogs to come. Until then, keep on squazzling!

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2011, August 17). Mental Health Terminology Demystified, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

November, 7 2022 at 11:49 pm

Hello on a serious note, just wondering if you can give more resources on the "Gazebo effect"?

October, 11 2020 at 5:46 pm

Is this a joke?

Sascha Maurer
May, 29 2017 at 1:54 pm

I google Gazebo effect because I figured someone out there had made that mistake before. Came across this page and went straight for it to see what moron actually thought it was Gazebo effect instead of Placebo effect. Took me until the last sentence to realize it was humour, then went and read the rest. Definitely worth it, very funny!

July, 12 2016 at 9:48 am

The Gazebo effect lead me to ur site ausi Alistair lol! ..Moses my name and a part of ma wild imagination goes like ..what would be the effect or out-come of a Gazebo pill if Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in secrecy gave it to a HIV+ patient as an HIV and Aids cure. Say hypothetically it works, what would have cured the patient? Belief of patient or Pope emeritus Benedict XVI

Hannah Coale
May, 30 2013 at 2:08 pm

A little late responding to this, but I just discovered your blog here. This entry is totally fabulous. One of my favorites...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
May, 30 2013 at 4:15 pm

Thanks, Hannah! - I like "cured" - that's when your insurance runs out.

September, 4 2011 at 9:50 am

Great info and great writer. I will check again your blog. take care.

Alistair McHarg
August, 23 2011 at 3:56 pm

In the original interview I did with them I mentioned my bipolar memoir, INVISIBLE DRIVING. But when the final profile appeared in the magazine, they were gone.

Chato B Stewart
August, 23 2011 at 2:22 pm

It came out very professional. What was the "references to INVISIBLE DRIVING "?

Alistair McHarg
August, 23 2011 at 8:54 am

Thanks, bud. I admit I was pleased with how the photo turned out - however, remember that the camera adds 10 pounds - and they used 3 cameras to take that picture! Wish they'd left in the references to INVISIBLE DRIVING but hey - I'm very grateful to the nice folks at BP Hope.

Chato B Stewart
August, 23 2011 at 8:17 am

Also I just got a copy of the latest BP Hope... Congrats for you full page layout! I'm still waiting for them to use one of my cartoons in an issue... I think if i write something they might run it... I do better with drawing not writing... Doh!

Alistair McHarg
August, 18 2011 at 7:19 am

Chato: Have at it. That one seems to have a lot of resonance - we've all been there. A

Chato from Mental Health Humor
August, 18 2011 at 6:48 am

I love the "Cured: This term describes a patient whose health insurance has run out." That would make a good cartoon. Next time I sit down to draw I poke around with the idea... That is if you don't mind me using your idea... :)

August, 18 2011 at 12:19 am

Oh my gosh, too darn funny! What a welcome refresher.

Holly Gray
August, 17 2011 at 6:14 pm

What a breath of fresh air. You've got me chortling, giggling, chuckling, and snickering. Thanks for the levity!

August, 17 2011 at 4:25 pm

Tibet's syndrome...Love that one!! :D

August, 17 2011 at 7:24 am

Hey good job!! You make me laugh so much, I loved the "cure" one. lol

Alistair McHarg
August, 17 2011 at 7:23 am

Thanks for making me feel welcome!

August, 17 2011 at 7:19 am

LOL!! Fabulous way to make your readers chuckle!!! I love #1 and #2. :-)
I look forward to reading more from you!!

August, 17 2011 at 6:52 am

you're killing me. in a good way. :)
welcome--can't wait to see what else you have up your sleeve!
Angela ("Life With Bob")

Alistair McHarg
August, 17 2011 at 6:39 am

Thanks Michele - Humor is so subjective - you can't know what will fly until you try it. Your feedback is welcome and appreciated. A

August, 17 2011 at 6:36 am

That was great, thanks so much. I look forward to your next post.

Alistair McHarg
August, 17 2011 at 6:29 am

Thanks Patricia - I am very excited about this opportunity.

August, 17 2011 at 6:08 am

Great blog Alistair! You really made me laugh, which is the best medicine, right? No "gazebo effect" but the real thing!
Congratulations and welcome to HealthyPlace. I'm so glad you're here with us.

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