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Labelling is what you do when you apply labels as a way of classifying things that are relevant to your own life and experience.

It is one of the thinking traps that can get in the way of happiness and success.

If you have low self-esteem, for example, you may self-label as ‘useless’, ‘inadequate’ or ‘inferior’.

If you disagree with the opinion of somebody else you might label them as ‘idiots’, ‘bigots’ or ‘thick’.

You may decide that people with more money than yourself are ‘rich’ or ‘posh’.

People who live their lives in a different way to how you think life should be lived might be labelled as ‘outcasts’ or ‘outsiders’.

As you can see, there are no limits to what and who can be labelled in this way.

The problem with labelling, however, is that labels can have real-world consequences for those so-labelled, particularly if those labels are applied by institutions of authority such as the police, government or medical health professionals.

Mental disorders are a type of label.

Labelling young men as ASBO's

The Limitations of Labelling

What do you see when you look at this picture of three young men?

Do you apply any labels to them?

Are they three unique individuals who you have never personally met and know nothing about or are they a ‘hoodies’ and most probably act in anti-social ways or represent ‘trouble’?

Some of you may remember that in 1998 the then UK prime minister, Tony Blair, introduced a new civil order designed to prevent anti-social behaviour by a small minority of youths, typically in built-up socially deprived areas of the country.

ASBO as a Label

They were officially known as Anti-Social Behaviour Orders but soon became popularly known as “ASBOs”.

Did you know that they were repealed in 2014 and replaced with the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014?

Probably not and why should you.

As it happened, one of the problems with ASBOs is that they did very little to deal with the causes of anti-social behaviour (societal inequalities, social deprivation, poor education and so on) and instead became a ‘badge of honour’ within certain communities.

You couldn’t join some youth ‘criminal gangs’ unless you had been issued with an ASBO!

Consequently, whilst the idea seemed like a good one (and polls showed that 82% of the British public were in favour of them) ASBO’s were seen as largely ineffective.

Furthermore, if those subject to an ASBO were found to be acting ‘anti-socially’ and were challenged as to why they were continuing to do so, the argument would invariably be: “I’m anti-social, what do you expect?”

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Contact Paul

Wolverhampton Psychologist Paul Lee MSc.

You can contact Paul on:

07434 776125

or by e-mail at:


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Pluralistic Therapist Joan Lee in Wolverhampton

You can contact Joan on:

07434 776504

or by e-mail at:


Paul Lee MSc.

Psychologist Paul Lee BSc MSc

About Paul

TEL: 07434 776125

Joan Lee D. Hyp.

Hypnotherapist Joan Lee D. Hyp. MIAEBP

About Joan

TEL: 07434 776504

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