We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Is the word 'brainstorming' offensive to people with epilepsy?

The word 'brainstorming' is not offensive to the vast majority of people with epilepsy, according to a survey carried out by Epilepsy Society in 2005.

The word has been used since the 1940s to describe the method of problem-solving or generating ideas where all present at a meeting make spontaneous suggestions. In the last year, it has been reported in the press that both the Welsh Development Agency and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Belfast have deemed the word brainstorming to be politically incorrect, with 'thought-showers' suggested as a suitable replacement.

However, in the survey, 93 per cent of people with epilepsy did not find the term derogatory or offensive in any way and many felt that this sort of political correctness singled out people with epilepsy as being easily offended.

In separate research, we asked for the views of people with epilepsy on the matter. One commented:

"I have no objection whatsoever to the term brainstorming. I am sure the public do not, in any way, associate this with epilepsy so why should we?"

Our view is that it depends upon the context: if the word is being used to describe a meeting where participants are suggesting ideas, then its use is not offensive to people with epilepsy. However, it should not be used to describe a seizure or the electrical activity within the brain during a seizure.

Take two minutes to help someone. Watch our epilepsy first aid video

Comments: read the 4 comments or add yours


I have no problem to the use of the word brainstorm. However I do find the word epileptic being used as a description of a person very offensive. I am a person that has epilepsy, that does not mean I fall into a particular category of description of people

Submitted by Edel on

In various places I have undertaken brainstorming sessions. I have epilepsy, and have been in status epilepticus a few times - in now way do I associate the term 'brainstorm' with epilepsy, and neither, I believe, do the majorirty of the general population. I hate this type of so-called political correctness; and by the way, if we call the board on which you use a dry-wipe marker pen a 'white-board', then that on which you use a chalk is a 'black-board' (not a chalk-board).

Submitted by Simon on

You have got to be kidding. What a waste of money to do this type of survey. And to the 7% who do find it offensive, I suggest they remain in their homes, they likely find most everything offensive. I have intermittent non-epileptic seizures. I've been referred to as epileptic, whatever. Some people find comfort in labeling others. Their problem not mine, if I went around getting offended all the time... geez.

Submitted by AJ on

I have epilepsy and actually find it more offensive that someone else has decided for me that it offends me. It doesn't offend me at all, in fact the word brainstorm isn't one i even associate with epilepsy. Maybe the people who ban the word brainstorm should ban the word imbecile as this word certainly relates to their condition.

Submitted by Lifeform on