rehab/detox
Posted: 24 May 2007 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]
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These started as euphemisms but are now universally understood for what they are. Are there other examples of this kind of reversal? (This is my main question.)

(I would even suggest that some stars use rehab as a sort of self-serving penance/PR and career salvage exercise, eg Mel Gibstein after his in vino veritas anti-semitic and ‘sugar tits’ remarks. Didn’t some actor also enter rehab for anti-gay remarks about a colleague on an American soap? Rehab now sometimes seems to signify a star bravely and nobly battling their demons in the public eye - a cynical and despicable exercise.)

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Posted: 24 May 2007 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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These started as euphemisms but are now universally understood for what they are.

I’m not sure what you mean.  What were they euphemisms for?  (Darn, for example, is a euphemism for damn.) It seems to me they’re just terms for “what they are,” namely places where you go to get rid (at least temporarily) of a dependence on an addictive substance.

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Posted: 24 May 2007 08:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I thought that they were originally terms ordinary folk had no understanding of but which sounded vaguely medical and impressive and worked as obfuscation at some point in the past thereby concealing the true nature of the sufferer’s problem from the public gaze. And that that was the whole point of their being adopted in the first place. Now they have become common currency. There must have been a transition point was my point when they no longer qualified as shady or hidden signifiers.

I also wondered if other euphemisms throughout history had undergone a similar process. Ethnic cleansing, for example, or climate change for global warming. These two are recent; there must be ancient examples?

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Posted: 24 May 2007 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Surely “rehabilitation” is a euphemism for drug or alcohol addiction treatment.

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Posted: 24 May 2007 08:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I used to be employed in the “health care” industry many years ago and at that time, “detox” was simply the first part of the “rehab” process. First you deal with the physical dependency and then with the psychological dependency. I don’t think rehab was ever a euphemism, it was simply not talked about. People went “on retreat” or were being “treated for exhaustion.” I suppose that ties in with being “tired and emotional” in public.

I don’t see anything nefarious about celebrities going into rehab for PR purposes. After all, celebrity itself is nothing more than a public perception. If it were my job to manipulate public perception, I would do it to the best of my ability.

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Posted: 24 May 2007 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Surely “rehabilitation” is a euphemism for drug or alcohol addiction treatment.

Considering that the most familiar other usage of the term (in the US, at least) is in reference to criminals, I don’t see this as a euphemism.

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Posted: 24 May 2007 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I meant in the context of my original post, Dr. T - drugs and alcohol.

I would assert, however, that “rehabilitation” when used for prisoners was also originally adopted to make the ‘“process" sound less grave and more positive to the general public what with the possibility of re-entering society having reformed and “repaid one’s debt to society”. It is pseudo-psychological/sociological jargon which I would label euphemism in many cases.

“We believe the criminal has learned his lesson and probably won’t do bad stuff again so we’re going to free him.” Parole boards might prefer “rehabilitated”.

My point is that words like these must have entered the language at some point, as I said, and been revealed through over-usage.

Did Chaucer or Shakespeare use euphemisms that are no longer considered as such?

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Posted: 24 May 2007 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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But “rehabilitation” is never used as a substitute for “in prison.” One would not say “he is in rehab” or “he is being rehabilitated” when one means “in prison.” The prison senses of “rehabilitation” and “rehabilitated” are certainly jargon, but not euphemism.

One test for a euphemism is to ask what the direct term is. A euphemism must substitute for a more direct term (e.g., a more direct term for “passed away” is “dead;” therefore “passed away” is a euphemism), and in the drug and alcohol sense there is none.

[ Edited: 24 May 2007 01:41 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 24 May 2007 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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What happydog and Dave said.  You don’t seem to be clear as to what a euphemism is.  The fact that rehab makes some people uncomfortable does not make the word a euphemism.

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Posted: 24 May 2007 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Nevertheless, in answer to the question I’d nominate collateral damage.

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Posted: 25 May 2007 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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"Drug rehab” and “alchohol rehab” are commonly found.  If rehab were a euphemism, those would be like saying “nutjob sanatarium”.

While you could have rehabilitation from an injury, etc, I don’t think detox is used for anything else, e.g. no one says “I accidentally ate some rat poison and had to go to the detox center”.

[ Edited: 25 May 2007 07:05 AM by Myridon ]
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Posted: 25 May 2007 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I don’t know how widespread this usage is but alternative medicine and natural health sites, for want of something better to call them, use the word “detox”.  One example:

Dr. Ted Spence discusses many detox approaches, including using diet, herbs, skin cleansing, detox baths, juice fasting, and more. A must read for anyone interested in body detox.

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Posted: 25 May 2007 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I see now they are not euphemisms. Mea culpa. I got confused because I saw them as ways of hiding ugly truths which euphemisms often do. Thanks for putting me right.

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