The Inversion of Names
How the wrong name can harm more than no name at all.
What happens when you give things the wrong names? If giving them the right names is known as the rectification of names, then giving them the wrong names could be called the inversion of names. Unfortunately, much of modern discourse is dominated by an inversion of names.
The inversion of names is worse than merely not having a name. If one doesn’t have a name for an experience or concept, they can create one. However, if one has the wrong name, the new idea must fight the thought-terminating cliche of the previous name before the correct concept can be understood. Without a name, there is a void. With the wrong name, the void is filled by an occupying idea. Often, before the names can be rectified, the occupation idea must be removed.
Let’s illustrate this concept with a story: Suppose a child is told growing up that they are “difficult.” In reality, the child is not difficult, but “unique.” Their family, school, and community are unwilling to grow or change in the ways necessary to meet the child’s needs, so they label the child “difficult.”
Before the child can discover their unique gifts, they might struggle with the idea that they are “difficult.” As an adult, they might apologize for the requests they make or see themselves as a “burden” on others. They might silence their unique gifts or needs because they don’t want to be “difficult.”
If the child had no label or guidance at all for their unique way of being, it would have been easier to discover it than if they had a false label applied to them. Now, every time the child seeks to express their unique gifts or ask for what they want, a voice inside them installed by others says “you are being difficult.”
The name given to a thing implies what should be done. If someone is being “difficult,” it implies their needs and way of being are a burden to others. If someone is “unique,” it implies that their way of being is special and their needs deserving of extra care. Since children cannot control their needs or way of being, “difficult” is an unfair and inverted name to apply to a child. The label “difficult” actually describes nd centers the adult’s experience trying to meet the child’s needs and then projects that experience onto the child.
If we were to rectify these names, we might say that the child is “unique” and the adults “inadequate.” Rectifying the name we give the adults might require understanding their reasons for failing to meet the child’s needs. Are they “unwilling” to meet the child’s needs or “incapable” of meeting them? Both labels could apply. Of course, it is obvious to see why schools would be more likely to label their students “difficult” than themselves “inadequate.”
Here are some ways to identify an inverted name: