The antiseptic nature of language allows for the euphemism of linguistic cloaking to occur. The corollary effect, however, is that it fails to provide a nexus to the humanity lost, and allows for an arrogance of language by imparting its distance and separation from warmth.
Clinical language has that characteristic, steeped in the mysterious and archaic history of Gregorian chants at altars once embodying the Eucharist’s theological secrets of transubstantiation with the priesthood undulating in phrases foreign to ears of modernity; and from that same pocket of incomprehensible linguistic sophistication that only New Englanders like Buckley and other intellectuals would bandy about with phrases we all nod at as if we understood them, comes the cold, clinical language that doctors, nurses and psychiatrists use in diagnosing conditions beyond the mere commoner’s ability to realize.
The clinical language bifurcates and objectifies; it is a way of keeping the discussion on a level of discourse where human emotions need not enter, will not intercede, and cannot invade through the impenetrable walls of the rational side of the brain. Perhaps there is a need for that; a want, a desire and a worthiness to maintain that distance, so that the topics delineated, explained and obfuscated can be accomplished without the emotional turmoil of those consequences resulting from the realization that one is damaged goods beyond repair.
In the end, however, when the patient goes back home, discusses it with family, friends and close relations, the interpretive process must by necessity be utilized.
In former times, dictionaries were taken out, root words were defined and the Latin phrases whispered in secret murmurings of incantations incomprehensible were untangled, discerned and disassembled. In modernity, we Google them and have the algorithm of computer intelligence in sunny California interpret the words for us to digest. Then, the translation into the emotive language of kitchen-held talks in hushed tones where children strain to listen from stairwells around the corner; and tears wept, confidences given and lost, and the upheavals of families in crisis where the clinical language has been demythologized and demystified so that even the everyday person can recognize the human toil of a ravaged body and mind.
For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, whether that medical condition has been diagnosed in clothing termed by the clinical language used by the medical profession, or already interpreted in common everyday usage, the plan is to prepare an effective, understandable, cogent and coherent Federal Disability Retirement application, and one that can bridge that gap from phrases barely comprehensible to linguistic descriptions that present a viable case.
Doctor’s reports and office notes, clinical narratives and treatment records are all useful and necessary, but in order to create that legal nexus of presenting a persuasive argument and meeting the standard of proof of preponderance of the evidence in a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is always a good idea to interpret and translate that clinical language into a delineation that touches upon the everyday emotions common to us all, by breaking down the bifurcated walls and allowing for the warmth of humanity to pervade the narrative of life.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire