I am normally a bit pedantic (perhaps a lot pedantic). I try to avoid absolutes. I tease people when they say things slightly grammatically incorrectly, especially when it leads to a very different, often humorous, literal meaning than they meant. ("I saw that terrible movie in theaters." Really, why did you see it in multiple theaters if it was so awful?) I'm able to exercise restraint with this, I don't tease like this at work or in serious situations. Usually I do know what people actually mean to say, but just tease them to be silly. Sometimes I genuinely don't know what someone is saying when it is ambiguous or I suspect they misspoke. ("Walmart employees asked to stay behind while flood waters rise" Did the employees ask or were they asked?)
When I am a patient in a mental health care situation, I become pedantic to the extreme. I don't do this to tease, I don't do it to be annoying, I do it in an attempt to avoid trouble. It doesn't really work.
In a staffing I said I felt yelled at. They said they didn't yell, being a bit pedantic. I only said I felt yelled at, so whether I really was or not is immaterial. Also, yes, I might take that pedantic approach to tease, but this is not a teasing situation, and it is a common colloquialism for people to say they were yelled at when no voices were actually raised. I revised to say I felt they were reprimanding me. They said it wasn't a reprimand. I revised to say that they had confronted me because they thought I had done something that they thought was sub-optimal, sub-par, damaging, eating-disordered, inadequate and the confrontation caused me to feel crummy especially because I hadn't actually done the thing they were confronting me over. My final explanation was incredibly pedantic, but they necessitated it with their blanket dismissals of my previous explanations. I had to go to a level of irrefutable, literal fact just to avoid getting dismissed. Many patients would give up without being understood, some might not be able to explain themselves sufficiently pedantically. The professionals could have responded differently to me, in a way that wouldn't be so prone to shutting down conversation. (They tell us how important it is to feel heard, but when they shut down conversations like this, they are making it doubly difficult to be heard. If I didn't insist on clarifying, what lesson do they think I would have come away with? The lesson I did come away with is bad enough.) They could have said, "No one here actually raised their voices to you. What do you mean by feeling yelled at? Did you feel insulted or scared or like we were angry, or what?" They did not express interest in understanding me, just dismissed my statements because they were not literally true (although I would argue that, too). I am pedantic for the sake of understanding (or humor), this seems like pedantry for the sake of evasion.
Depressed people are often overly pessimistic and sometimes make unqualified negative statements. ("Today is going to be awful.") Staff often challenge patients when they make those unqualified negative statements, usually with the argument that they do not know for certain that the day will be awful because they cannot know the future. I can deal with that, they are correct and I see their point. But the staff often make unqualified positive statements. They say "today is going to be great" or tell patients to tell themselves that. I confronted a staff member once who made an unqualified positive statement not five minutes after chiding a patient for an unqualified negative statement. I told her that she didn't know that day would be great anymore than I knew that day would be awful. She said, "I'm just trying to get you guys to think positive," and walked away. In similar situations, I have been told I'm just being pedantic. I am perhaps being a bit devious and trying to make a point in these situations, I don't think that excuses their evasive responses. It doesn't change the fact that we are being equally pedantic, but the rules appear differ between positive and negative, patient and professional. There is still this internally inconsistent system of logic being promoted, one that leaves patients entirely dependent on the staff to do their thinking. It is impossible for me to know where they will be reasonable and logical and where they will be arbitrary. Based on my experience, I tend to assume they will eschew logic at most opportunities, leaving me genuinely surprised and in disbelief when I encounter a professional who acts consistently logically and reasonably.
Professionals harp on and on about avoiding black-and-white thinking. Live in the gray! Live in the rainbow! Black thinking and making unqualified negative statements are confronted and refuted. "You can't possibly know that today will be awful because you can't foretell the future." Okay, your pedantic rules. So if I am to avoid black-and-white thinking, yet still express how I feel, I say, "I feel like today is going to be awful, I don't expect anything to go well" I have not expressed an absolute! I have used an "I" statement! I have done exactly what they have told me to do! What sort of response do I get? "You can't possibly know that today will be awful." I know that, but I still feel hopeless, which is why I used an "I" statement and said "I feel" rather than making an absolute statement. "I don't remember what words you used, I don't want to argue semantics." Wait, what? You nitpicked about my words being black-and-white, I conformed to your rules, you accused me of still being black-and-white, I pointed out that I had followed your rules, and then you dismiss me for arguing semantics? (And I'm the crazy one?) If it is that they are focusing on black-and-white thinking over black-and-white speaking, the situation is no better because I acknowledge uncertainty in thought even when I don't acknowledge it in word. How can they know that I do not? They don't ask; they focus on what I say. I can't win if I don't follow their rules because I get a lecture. I can't win if I do follow their rules because they don't notice, I still get a lecture, and they dismiss me when I point out that I followed the rules.
They want us to avoid black-and-white thinking, so when we are prone to unqualified negative statements, shouldn't the counter be gray statements of possibility rather than blindingly white statements of unqualified positivity? I would say yes. Realism is (part of) the gray area between pessimism and optimism. But whenever I would try to establish a realistic perspective with a staff person, a compromise between my black and their white, they would still tell me I was being negative. I was attempting to bring them into the gray zone by compromising and finding realism, but they called it pessimism and insisted on unqualified optimism. If they are going to teach me to avoid black-and-white thinking, it would be nice if they modeled it for me.