What I have Learned

Today, I have learned about the idea of concept creep. This is the phenomena when a special concept exists, but the core concept will be extended to fit different matters or to be more generally applicable.

The idea was described in the book: ‘The coddling of the American mind’ by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. An example of this concept creeps is the PTSD (Posttraumatic stress disorder) that was applied to lectures that might include content that one could see offensive(keyword: trigger warnings). The idea is that a topic like slavery might cause people to have ‘flashbacks’ of being treated in a racist way. However, PTSD is real phenomena while the process of hurt feeling does not quite have the same traumatic effect. This is horizontally concept creep.

When a concept is extended to fit more different terms, this is also a concept creep, a horizontally one too. The example was made for emotional abuse. Similar to PTSD, abuse is quite accurate defined. However, over time the term was extended by some people to fit more ambiguous parts of abuses(horizontally again), but also what accounts as abuse in the first place. The burden, what abuse might be was, lowered and became less extreme, that’s the vertical concept creep.

Source: How Americans Became So Sensitive to Harm and the book.