Basorexia – noun; the overwhelming desire to kiss someone.

Ever heard that term before? It wasn’t until recently that I realized how horribly small my vocabulary is when it comes to obscure, technical terms for, well, everything. Words like ‘basorexia’ have been showing up all over social media sites like Tumblr and Instagram as fun, whimsical captions for pictures that seemingly elucidate their meaning; but these pseudoscience terms aren’t always spot on. The glorification and misuse of such words only misinforms.

[one_third]The glorification and misuse of such words only misinforms.[/one_third]

There’s nothing wrong with coining a term for a concept or feeling. New words are fun! They’re great little tools that make getting your point across easier and more concise. But it’s terms like ‘basorexia’ that make me question the point of even coming up with such terms. What am I supposed to do with this newly acquired information? Instead of saying “I really want to kiss you,” should I now approach someone and claim that I am basorexic? It’s likely that the only response I’d receive is a questioning of my well-being. How romantic. Maybe it looks cool on your blog or profile to display a word that sounds cool. But, ultimately, the general practicality is lacking. When would ever be an appropriate time to express yourself like that?

Here’s a list of other words I’ve discovered and their supposed definitions according to social media:

Celebriphilia – An abnormally intense desire to have a romantic and/or sexual relationship with a celebrity.

Lisztomania –  A need to listen to music all the time.

Drapetomania – An intense urge to run away.

Atelophobia – The fear of not being good enough.

Thantophobia – The fear of losing someone you love.

From these definitions, each word is something most people can probably relate to. The problem is, that after some further research, these quirky little psychological blemishes aren’t as light and relatable as they are portrayed.

Let’s take drapetomania for example. It was described on Tumblr as ‘the overwhelming urge to escape or run away.’ It’s fair to say that almost everyone has wanted to escape at some point. Taking a one way trip out of a hectic lifestyle can sometimes be an intense desire. So, what’s stopping me from labeling myself as a drapetomaniac when life gets hard?

Well, for starters, drapetomania was a mental illness coined in 1851 by physician Samuel A. Cartwright to diagnose slaves with an obsession to flee their captivity. It is a rather specific diagnosis that Cartwright most likely would not apply to someone who just wants to escape from a stressful work life. Quite simply, drapetomania as originally coined is an inaccurate and racist diagnosis. This should give you something to think about the next time you stick ‘drapetomaniac’ in your Instagram bio. And just in case you were wondering, the remedy Dr. Cartwright prescribed was to cut off both big toes of the affected individual.

[one_third]…phobias are
as in they persist in a way that somehow interrupts a regular lifestyle.[/one_third]

Thantophobia, according to Tumblr yet again, is the fear of losing someone you love. First of all, it’s misspelled— thanatophobia is the correct form. Second of all, thanatophobia is the fear of death or dying itself, rather than a vague ‘losing’ of someone you love, according to its dictionary definition. Maybe it’s a legitimate word and lots of people are afraid of dying. But how many people actually experience this fear to the point of interfering with their everyday life and relationships? It’s important to remember that phobias are abnormalities that persist in ways that interrupt one’s regular lifestyle.

Atelophobia is the fear of not being good enough. For once, this social media definition is actually correct. However, when can someone be diagnosed as an atelophobic? The common fear of being rejected by a date definitely does not qualify. Atelophobia, in fact, is classified as a type of social anxiety disorder, where an overwhelming, all consuming, and debilitating fear of not being good enough consumes you. Did you catch that? Debilitating. People with atelophobia are dragged away from their normal lifestyles and completely sucked into an irrational cycle of fear and panic on a daily basis— not just occasionally.

It didn’t take much researching to get the actual definitions of the terms above. It’s more convenient to just believe what people tell you at face value, especially when it’s a cool word that makes you seem lettered and intellectual. People love to be able to slap another intelligent sounding label onto themselves. I understand the sense of legitimacy it gives, but it’s a misguided one. Hopefully people will think twice the next time they feel like brandishing a new vocabulary term they’ve discovered via the web. After all, the internet is only as accurate as the people who use it.