Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What is Stigma?

Last week I wrote a little bit in the blog about stigma. I will try and define stigma in this blog. Stigma is when someone has a preconceived notion about a person or condition. The Mayo Clinic defines stigma as it is “based on stereotypes, stigma is a negative judgment based on a personal trait – in this case having a mental health condition.” I believe judgment starts when you are young and do not understand or heard from someone about mental illness. We grow up to be adults and watch movies, and read newspapers or people who have a mental illness, and they kill or hurt someone. This reinforces what we already believe. We are portrayed as dangerous and not understanding what we are doing. We are not seen as human beings. In another article about stigma it says, “For many Americans suffering with a mental illness, a fear of stigma often keeps them from seeking medical help they need….the sufferer can experience discrimination in employment, housing, medical care and social relationships, and this negatively affects the quality of life for these individuals and loved ones.” It is true; I have experienced it as I said in last week’s blog. Where I told someone I had a mental illness and they stopped talking to me. You learn to keep your mouth shut and never get to start new relationships with people outside of the mental health field or family. The other time I told that had a mental illness was in a classroom, and they already knew me for a half of semester before I told them. I believe the fact they had seen how I acted in class and they were young and open minded classmates helped a lot. I did make a couple of good friends in that class. They saw me for me. Although I never felt that I could repeat that in any other class. I believe for a person not to make a preconceived notion about a person with a mental illness, they would have to see that you are an ordinary person with dreams, and life problems like anyone else. It does not help how we are portrayed in the movies. I believe there are a lot of recovered people with a mental illness that are successful, although they never mention they have a mental illness. How has stigma affected you?


  1. It is very painful for me when I experience stigma. Recently, a neighbor was falling several large trees. I live in a rural area in a cabin next to my landlord's house. I called the landlord about the trees since it was possible they could fall on our property. He mentioned the guy next door was a tree surgeon expert and I need not worry about the falling trees. Then he went on to say the neighbor was gay. I did not comment since it was so irrelevant and obviously a statement of predjudice. His voice became even more animated as he mentioned that the neighbor was bi-polar and that I should stay away from him because from time to time he runs out of, what is it?...Lithium and he may become a little crazy. Of course, I did not know how to respond since I usually keep my bottle of Lithium out on the dining room table so I don't forget to take it. I had been letting my landlord come in to my house to feed my cat, whom he loves, but I no longer feel comfortable with that, but I just don't feel comfortable at all living here now. What if he finds out I am bipolar? Funny thing is, the behavior my landlord has exhibited over the last year, leads me to believe that he may have OCD or perhaps, even bipolar.

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