Living With the Stigma of Mental Illness

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Life with a serious mental disorder such as schizophrenia and others, usually never falls within the boundaries of what could be considered ‘easy.’ Long treatment regiments, intense medications and sometimes debilitating symptoms are just a few headlines in the laundry list of hardships that befall those diagnosed with a serious mental disorder. Even with all this, they then must face society and its uncanny ability to stigmatize and isolate these people. While certainly not anything new to this group of individuals, stigma has shifted and changed shape to conform to the current standards of society, and what is ‘normal.’ Is the distancing of mainstream society away from the mentally ill due to ignorance on their (society’s) part or perhaps a fear of what is different? Much of the research regarding stigma and mental illness found in the field of Sociology today centers on two primary theories, Goffman in 1963 and Scheff in 1966 (Corrigan et. al). The latter “labeling theory” says that when behaviors of a person come to be labeled as part of a mental illness, they trigger more negative stereotypes in the public perception. That is to say, if someone with a particular mental illness acts out, say violently, the public will associate such behavior as part of that mental illness schema. Similarly Goffman notes that those who are considered to be “normal” believe those who have been stigmatized to be “not normal” going so far as to think of them as almost not human. This leads so called normal society to discriminate against those with mental illness by showing unwillingness to help those people or even refusing to hire them for work (Corrigan et. al). By putting forth a wall of fear of what they do not know or understand, the ‘nor... ... middle of paper ... ...rehabilitation and their overall well being. Works Cited Corrigan, Patrick W, Amy C. Watson, Amy C. Warpinski & Gabriela Gracia. 2004. Implications of Educating the Public on Mental Illness, Violence and Stigma. Psychiatric Services. ( 55): 577-580 Corrigan, Patrick, Fred E. Markowitz, Amy Watson, David Rowan, & Mary Ann Kubiak. 2003. An Attribution Model of Public Discrimination towards Persons with Mental Illness. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. (44): 162-179 Wright , Eric R., Dustin E. Wright, Brea L. Perry & Carrie E. Foote-Ardah. 2007. Stigma and the Sexual Isolation of People with Serious Mental Illness. Social Problems. (54): 78-98 Wright, Eric R., William P. Gronfein & Timothy J. Owens. 2000. Deinstitutionalization, Social Rejection, and the Self-Esteem of Former Mental Patients. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. (41): 68-90

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