Department Of Why You Don’t Want Me To Fill Out Your Survey
Dear, ____ (name of artistic group whose events I patronize),
I know that you-who-sent-moiself-this-survey – or the consultants which convinced you to do so, to justify their services – hope that having me fill out your survey will help you to “gain insights into the kind of audience” you are attracting, or wish to attract. 
However, I am slightly annoyed/somewhat mystified by the myriad of (what I consider to be) none-of-your-business/how-does-this-matter? questions. Checking “prefer not to disclose” was not satisfying, to moiself…then, my annoyance morphed into delight, when I came upon this question in your survey:
Please select any of the following sexual identities/orientations that describe you.
Heterosexual or straight
Questioning or unsure
Prefer not to disclose
At first glance I thought the first option was “Aromatic.” Which I decided to disclose to you, under “other.” I also thought about checking “pansexual” (I have this thing for cast iron skillets)…but…nah.
Anyway, thanks for the entertainment.
* * *
Department Of These Labels Violate My Boundaries
Sometimes moiself wonders if social media has amplified the tendency we all have toward practicing amateur psychiatry. We scoff at our social media friend who barks, “Don’t poison your body – do your own research!” and sends us a link to a 15 minute video hosted by a dubiously-credentialed Guy In A Lab Coat® who spouts conspiracy theories contradicting 15 years of medical research on RNA vaccines. Then we turn around and employ (and misuse) psychological concepts and diagnoses, such as boundaries and narcissist.
In psychology jargon, boundaries are rules and guidelines we set for *ourselves,* to help us set realistic limits on activities and relationships. We choose and set these boundaries; thus, it is we who are in charge of enforcing them. Yet, those  I hear (or read about) who use the term boundaries emphasize the actions of *other* people – extended family; coworkers; friends and neighbors – whom they accused of ignoring or violating their boundaries. They forget the crucial point of boundaries (or perhaps never understood it in the first place): boundaries are rules that *they* set for *themselves,* not for others.
” Yet even as ‘boundaries‘ have taken off, the concept has become misunderstood, joining gaslit and narcissist in the pantheon of misused psychology jargon. When you want someone to do something, throwing in the word boundary can lend the request a patina of therapeutic legitimacy.
When imposed on us, boundaries can feel upsetting. Because many people view happy relationships as problem-free, a request to behave differently can feel like a rejection. Some people—out of trauma or other wounds—interpret a ‘no’ from a loved one as the end of a relationship. But boundaries are supposed to help preserve relationships, not destroy them. ‘People typically believe that boundaries are to control people, and in actuality, they are safeguards for yourself and for peace and comfort in your relationships,’ says the therapist and Drama Free author Nedra Glover Tawwab.”
( “The Most Misunderstood Concept in Psychology: What are boundaries?”
By Olga Khazan” The Atlantic 8/23 , my emphases )
That article got me to thinking about more misuse/misunderstandings of the other two psychology terms the article mentions – terms that but get diluted with mis- and over-use.
Narcissist. How many times have y’all heard that term, used as a pejorative and also as an analysis of a difficult spouse/coworker/person/family member, despite the fact that the person being labeled a narcissist has not received a Narcissistic Personality Disorder diagnosis from a mental health professional, nor has ever even visited a counselor? 
” ‘One of the internet’s favorite diagnoses is that someone is a narcissist—which has become shorthand for anyone who appears self-centered or entitled. The term is ‘thrown around so carelessly,’ says Jacquelyn Tenaglia, a licensed mental health counselor based in Boston. ‘I see narcissism being especially misapplied when it’s used to label someone who exhibits qualities that someone might not like.’
While it might feel good to call your frenemy who only talks about herself a narcissist, mental-health experts suggest refraining. Narcissistic personality disorder is a clinical diagnosis….”
( “Gaslighting, Narcissist, and More Psychology Terms You’re Misusing,”
health/psychology, Time.com, )
And gaslit – I’m hearing that term more and more, to describe the allegedly nefarious actions and/or motivations of someone we don’t trust and/or just don’t like…but, are we really using it correctly?
The term is derived from the 1944 movie,  Gaslight. Gaslight tells the story of a late 19th century woman who is whirlwind-romanced into marriage, by a man who wants to gain access to her wealthy aunt’s estate, in which, he’s discovered, many valuable jewels are hidden. The husband tries to convince his wife that their house’s gas lights, which flicker and fade (but only when she is in a room, alone) are not in fact actually dimming, and that she is imagining the sounds she hears coming from the attic. The husband himself is the one behind both the noises and the dimming lights, in a strategy to drive his wife mad and have her institutionalized.
Someone can treat you poorly, even lie to you, without “gaslighting” you.
“Although in most cases the word serves to expose implicit power dynamics and level the playing field, it can also be used to do the exact opposite. That’s thanks to a process called ‘semantic bleaching,’ where a word’s true meaning gets diluted through imprecise and bad-faith usage…. woke—a word that originally meant ‘socially and politically aware,’ but now can be used to mean ‘sensitive’ and ‘irrational about social and political issues’ because of semantic bleaching by right-leaning media.”
( “Are you using gaslight correctly? ” The Atlantic, 4-11-22 )
Moiself highly recommends these articles I’ve cited (and hope I’m not violating any of your boundaries with this suggestion).
* * *
Department Of And One More Thing We’re Overusing/Doing Wrong:
Can we please stop referring to people as toxic?
“One of my most important rules as a therapist: Ignore all adjectives. When one of my clients says someone in their life is selfish, or cold, or hot-tempered, it doesn’t tell me much about the problem. Adjectives aren’t facts.
That’s especially true of ‘toxic,’ an adjective that’s become increasingly popular in and outside of my office (it was even the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year in 2018). It’s also easily overused — a way of reframing a difficult relationship as one not worth having.
So, when I have a therapy client who uses ‘toxic’ to describe someone, I don’t ask them to clarify, or to reconsider the word. Instead, I focus on the facts of the challenging situation they’re telling me about….
When you feel anxious around another person, your brain will begin to take emotional shortcuts that usually involve fighting, fleeing, or complaining to others. You quickly label the person as ‘toxic,’ declare their toxicity as the cause of your anxiety, and assume that escaping them will fix your distress…
When one of my clients starts getting into adjective-heavy territory, I redirect them with questions like, ‘What did they do?’…and ‘Where and when did this happen?’ and ‘How did you respond?’ Notice that none of these questions have the word ‘why.’ This is because ‘why’ usually requires you to guess a person’s motivation, or label them as a certain kind of person….”
(“Why Therapists Avoid Using the Word ‘Toxic’ –
Labeling others can stunt your own growth,”
Forge.medium.com ; my emphases )
Hey, I enjoy petty name calling as much as the next guy. But do I really think the person who annoys me – or even the who has treated me poorly  for years – has venom running through his veins, and that touching him would set off an anaphylactic or neurological reaction? Or is it that he does ____, and ____, and ____, and thus I believe it is ultimately unhealthy for me to be around him?
Delineate, please. Be specific; calling someone toxic tells me nothing, except that you don’t like them.
“Toxins are poisonous substances produced within living cells or organisms and can include various classes of small molecules or proteins that cause disease on contact. The severity and type of diseases caused by toxins can range from minor effects to deadly effects. The organisms which are capable of producing toxins include bacteria, fungi, algae, and plants. Some of the major types of toxins include, but are not limited to, environmental, marine, and microbial toxins. Microbial toxins may include those produced by the microorganisms bacteria (i.e. bacterial toxins) and fungi (i.e. mycotoxins).”
( 14.4A; Toxins, Biology Libre Texts )
* * *
* * *
Department Of Affirmations Gone Astray
Moiself received yet another solicitation to purchase “anti-aging” products. The misogyny and (ultimate) futility of the concept behind the term “anti-aging” I have railed articulately commented about, many times, in this space.
This time I had a minor epiphany as to the appropriateness of the term. Anti-aging: it is, indeed, anti– aging…which therefore makes it anti-life. Because if you’re not aging, you’re not alive. The only people who do not (who cannot) age are dead.
Feeling rather smug, I briefly meditated upon another embrace-the reality-maxim:
Today I am as old as I have ever been,
and, as young as I will ever be.
That didn’t go so well.
* * *
Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week 
“I realized early on that it is detailed scientific knowledge which makes certain religious beliefs untenable. A knowledge of the true age of the earth and of the fossil record makes it impossible for any balanced intellect to believe in the literal truth of every part of the Bible in the way that fundamentalists do. And if some of the Bible is manifestly wrong, why should any of the rest of it be accepted automatically? . . .
What could be more foolish than to base one’s entire view of life on ideas that, however plausible at the time, now appear to be quite erroneous? And what would be more important than to find our true place in the universe by removing one by one these unfortunate vestiges of earlier beliefs?”
( my emphases, Francis Crick,  from his memoir,
What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery )
* * *
May you always identify as the Best-Smelling Orientation;
May you remove unfortunate vestiges of earlier erroneous beliefs;
May you enforce boundaries with the narcissistic gaslighters, real or imagined, in your life;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 I know this because it says so on the survey’s intro.
 These folks are not mental-health care professionals.
 Oh, but that would be typical of a narcissist, right?
 Adapted from the 1938 play of the same name.
 Maybe, even gaslit me!
 “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists. No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.” Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org
 British physicist and biologist Crick, along with James Watson, Rosalind Franklin, and Maurice Wilkins, helped decipher the structure and replication scheme of DNA, for which he (and others) won the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine.