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The term ’neurotic’ has gone out of fashion these days. It’s been replaced by an array of clinical terms that allow for more targeted labelling of problematic or unconventional behaviour.

Whatever the label, it’s a convenience that stops us needing to look further. When we categorise someone we don’t need to understand anything more about them; there’s no need to enquire or dig deeper.

We do it to ourselves too; we accept the labels given to us by others like hand-me-down clothes, and we wear them even though they don’t fit properly.

Handy though they are, labels hinder understanding. In most cases this doesn’t matter but when it comes to something that disturbs our wellbeing (or that of others), it does.

Carl Jung said “neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering”. We can learn a lot when we enquire about what’s behind the label.

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