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Storm in a Tea Cup Over Brainstorming?


The term 'brainstorming' is politically correct and is not insensitive to those with mental health problems, according to a new survey among leading mental health charities and campaign bodies.

The survey revealed none of these organisations considered brainstorming as politically incorrect or had any formal policies relating to this question.

Conducted by creativity consultancy creativity@work the study followed concerns raised by training and HR specialists that the term is likely to cause offence, particularly to schizophrenics and epileptics.

The authors of the survey now claim it is safe to use the word brainstorming when describing a meeting for generating ideas.

"We frequently come across people who tell us that, 'You can't use the word brainstorming', it's politically incorrect'," said Andy Green of creativity consultancy creativity@work. "As a result many have felt uneasy about using the term. We have witnessed situations where debate over the correctness of the word has actually got in the way of starting, or encouraging idea generating sessions."

However the consultancy says that if the word brainstorming is intended to describe a seizure or the electrical activity during a seizure, it should not be used.

"On a wider front this is an important issue," Green added. "If we misuse the word and concept of 'political correctness' it dilutes and undermines its effectiveness in areas where there is a need for greater sensitivity and awareness, particularly in relation to mental health issues."

The word 'brainstorming' was originally coined by Alex Osborn in his seminal work 'Applied Imagination'. The Oxford English dictionary defines a brainstorming session as 'a concerted intellectual treatment of a problem by discussing spontaneous ideas about it.'

* Mental health charities and campaign groups contacted in the survey included: MENCAP, MIND, SANE, Manic Depression Fellowship, Rethink, National Schizophrenia Fellowship for Scotland, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Depression Alliance, Epilepsy Action, Epilepsy Scotland, Scottish Association for Mental Health, Mental Aftercare Association, and the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.


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