Monday, March 29, 2010

What is Stigma: Fact or Fiction?

A stigma is in one sense a sign of disgrace. It is the disapproval of personal characteristics or traits or beliefs that are viewed by others of society of those who may be against cultural norms.
History shows us, even today that social stigma includes mental illness, physical disabilities, many diseases, illegitimacy, the color of a persons’ skin, what social group you may belong to, religion, nationality, and ethnicity, even your political beliefs may be associated with stigma.

In our society criminality carries a strong stigma for it is associated with many other existing negative genres or categories associated with crime, even war. Stigma is founded upon stereotypes and misinformation. There are three kinds of stigma, deformity, poor personal traits (mental abilities, looks, dress) etc. and tribal status, these which are founded in all cultures and time frames. “Social influences” have been found to be more of a cause of mental disorder, yet the same holds true to the negative or stressful experiences people have suffered to as well. Misinterpretation can influence stigma as well as morality.

In the early civilizations some people were treated for mental disorders, whether they were of wealth or poor who is to know, yet the ideas of psychiatric theories developed in Persia, the Arabic and Muslim Empire and also in the Islamic world, this has been since before the eighth century AD. You might sense the idea of how long stigma has been associated with those who are downtrodden and the mentally ill. Besides the many hospitals which exist in the 21st century, there are now consumer/survivor movements’ organizations that are of clients/consumers of mental health services who consider themselves as survivors, to mention not only of their mental disabilities, yet also of stigma.

Social stigma is a problem. Many people believe those with a serious mental illness cannot recover, and are a nuisance to society hence the degradation suffered by those who are slow to grow physically, who suffer from mental retardation or cannot attain acceptance within the norm. MHCD and Outcomes believes otherwise, that people can become a part of society again and function with the norm without disgrace and with self reliance and self esteem.
To note, Employment discrimination and unemployment play a great part in the diagnosis of mental illness. Today there are efforts being taken to eliminate the stigma of mental illness, through the media, though at time this causes serious corruption through portrayals’ which usurp the idea of recovery through stigma.

The general public holds an idea of stereotypical images of those associated with mental illness and associates other ideas which are not of the societal norm a part of those images through stigma—
Will we ever find our peace over the rainbow—to change our experiences?
By Donald Sammons

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