The Duchess of Sussex said she has been called “crazy and hysterical”, arguing the “damaging” words dismiss women’s experiences.
Speaking on her new podcast, Archetypes, the Duchess said that the use of the words throughout history had a “silencing effect” on women.
The episode began with Meghan, 41, issuing a trigger warning advising anyone to “tune out” if they find the content “too heavy”.
She also spoke about her own mental health struggles and said that at her “worst point” she rang a counsellor that her husband, the Duke of Sussex, had found for her.
She said: “I called this woman, she didn’t know, I was even calling her while she was checking out at the grocery store.
“I could hear the little beep, and I said, hi and I’m introducing myself and like, I could hear her going ‘sorry who is this’?
“And saying I need help, she could hear the dire state that I was in. I think it’s for all of us to be really honest about what it is that you need and to not be afraid to make peace with that to ask for it.”
During the episode, Meghan also played a series of quotes, including one from author and internet personality Jordan Peterson, who says, “I don’t think that men can control crazy women”.
Meghan was joined on the podcast by actresses Deepika Padukone, Jenny Slate and Constance Wu who all shared their own experiences of being labelled “crazy”.
Opening the episode, Meghan said: “”Raise your hand if you’ve ever been called crazy or hysterical? Or what about nuts, insane, out of your mind, completely irrational? Okay, you get the point.
“Now, if we were all in the same room and could see each other, I think it would be pretty easy to see just how many of us have our hands up? By the way, me too.”
She then goes on to discuss her feelings about the word crazy, the negative connotations it has and the impact of its use on women.
Meghan said she felt “pretty strongly” about the disparaging label.
She added: “The way it is thrown around so casually and the damage it has wrought on society and women, frankly everywhere.
“From relationships to family’s being shattered, reputations destroyed and careers ruined. The stigma surrounding the word, it also has this silencing effect.
“This effect where women experiencing real mental health issues get scared, they stay quiet, they internalise and they repress for far too long.”
‘Calling someone crazy completely dismisses their experience’
Meghan also admitted she was unaware, before recording the episode, that the word “hysteria” came from the Greek word for uterus, hystera.
She said: “Plato himself was actually amongst the Greek philosophers, who believed that the womb would travel around the body adding pressure to other organs, which would then lead to erratic and unreliable behaviour.”
She added: “Calling someone crazy or hysterical completely dismisses their experience and minimises what they’re feeling.
“It keeps going to the point where anyone who’s been labelled it enough times can be gas-lit into thinking that they’re actually unwell or sometimes worse, to the point where real issues of all kinds get ignored.”
Serena Williams ‘went through medical gaslighting’
Meghan then describes the “medical gaslighting” experience her friend, tennis professional Serena Williams, went through shortly after giving birth.
The former world number one was reportedly told by a nurse that the medicine “might be making her crazy” when she complained of pain being a possible blood clot.
Meghan explained: “She was feeling awful after her C-section. She demanded a CT scan to look for clots and instead a nurse said, ‘I think all this medicine is making you talk crazy’.
“Now of course, Serena Williams knew her body. And she was right.”