In an article entitled "‘Idiotic’ Name for Dementia Sparks China Doctors’ Protest" that appeared in today's Bloomberg News, the question of the appropriateness of the names for various diseases is raised. The article begins:
The Chinese name diseases based on symptoms, so diabetes is known as “sugary pee,” while a dyslexic “has trouble reading.” Dementia derives from two Chinese characters meaning “insane” and “idiotic.”
tángniàobìng 糖尿病 ("sugar-urine-disease" = "diabetes")
sòngdú kùnnán 诵读困难 ("reading-difficulty / trouble" = "dyslexia")
chīdāi 痴呆 ("insane / idiotic / foolish / stupid / dumb / silly-silly / stupid / dull" = "dementia")
Since the article is relatively short and concise, I shall quote the rest of it:
Worried that many people with dementia are so self-conscious they won’t seek treatment, Chinese psychiatrists are calling for professionals and patients to adopt a new term.
“The Chinese name implies that patients are both mentally ill and severely stupid, so the stigma is doubled,” said Helen Chiu, a professor of clinical psychiatry at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the lead author of an editorial in the International Psychogeriatrics journal. The eight doctors who signed the piece advocating a change are from China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Switzerland.
It isn’t an issue only in Chinese-speaking populations, because the Korean and Japanese languages rely on many Chinese characters. And many Asian medical names were adapted from those used centuries ago by Chinese practitioners who called illnesses after symptoms or causes, according to Jaung-Geng Lin, a professor of Chinese medicine at China Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan.
Notice that, of the eight doctors who signed the editorial, only one is from China.
[Hat tip Michael Rank]