Social stigma is the disapproval of, or discrimination against, a person based on perceivable social characteristics that serve to distinguish them from other. What is mental health stigma?: Mental health stigma can be divided into two distinct types: social stigma is characterized by prejudicial attitudes. Fortunately, social psychologists and sociologists have been studying phenomena related to stigma in other minority groups for several decades. In this paper.
Identity threat theories can go hand-in-hand with labeling theory. Members of stigmatized groups start to become aware that they aren't being treated the same way and know they are probably being discriminated against. Studies have shown that "by 10 years of age, most children are aware of cultural stereotypes of different groups in society, and children who are members of stigmatized groups are aware of cultural types at an even younger age.
Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crimes or deviance, properly so-called, will there be unknown; but faults, which appear venial to the layman, will there create the same scandal that the ordinary offense does in ordinary consciousnesses. If then, this society has the power to judge and punish, it will define these acts as criminal or deviant and will treat them as such.
Erving Goffman was one of the most influential sociologists of the twentieth century. Goffman saw stigma as a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity. More specifically, he explained that what constituted this attribute would change over time. An attribute that stigmatizes one type of possessor can confirm the usualness of another, and therefore is neither creditable nor discreditable as a thing in itself. In Goffman's theory of social stigma, a stigma is an attribute, behavior, or reputation which is socially discrediting in a particular way: Goffman, a noted sociologist , defined stigma as a special kind of gap between virtual social identity and actual social identity:.
Society establishes the means of categorizing persons and the complement of attributes felt to be ordinary and natural for members of each of these categories. The category and attributes he could in fact be proved to possess will be called his actual social identity. While a stranger is present before us, evidence can arise of his possessing an attribute that makes him different from others in the category of persons available for him to be, and of a less desirable kind--in the extreme, a person who is quite thoroughly bad, or dangerous, or weak.
He is thus reduced in our minds from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted one. Such an attribute is a stigma , especially when its discrediting effect is very extensive [ Note that there are other types of [such] discrepancy [ The wise normals are not merely those who are in some sense accepting of the stigma; they are, rather, "those whose special situation has made them intimately privy to the secret life of the stigmatized individual and sympathetic with it, and who find themselves accorded a measure of acceptance, a measure of courtesy membership in the clan.
An example is a parent of a homosexual; another is a white woman who is seen socializing with a black man. Limiting ourselves, of course, to social milieus in which homosexuals and blacks are stigmatized. Until recently, this typology has been used without being empirically tested.
A study  showed empirical support for the existence of the own, the wise, and normals as separate groups; but, the wise appeared in two forms: Active wise encouraged challenging stigmatization and educating stigmatizers, but passive wise did not. Goffman emphasizes that the stigma relationship is one between an individual and a social setting with a given set of expectations; thus, everyone at different times will play both roles of stigmatized and stigmatizer or, as he puts it, "normal".
Goffman gives the example that "some jobs in America cause holders without the expected college education to conceal this fact; other jobs, however, can lead to the few of their holders who have a higher education to keep this a secret, lest they be marked as failures and outsiders.
Similarly, a middle class boy may feel no compunction in being seen going to the library; a professional criminal, however, writes [about keeping his library visits secret]. Individuals actively cope with stigma in ways that vary across stigmatized groups, across individuals within stigmatized groups, and within individuals across time and situations.
The stigmatized are ostracized, devalued , scorned, shunned and ignored. They experience discrimination in the realms of employment and housing. Although the experience of being stigmatized may take a toll on self-esteem, academic achievement, and other outcomes, many people with stigmatized attributes have high self-esteem, perform at high levels, are happy and appear to be quite resilient to their negative experiences.
There are also "positive stigma": This is noted by Goffman This can result in social stigma. From the perspective of the stigmatizer, stigmatization involves, threat, aversion [ clarification needed ] and sometimes the depersonalization of others into stereotypic caricatures. Stigmatizing others can serve several functions for an individual, including self-esteem enhancement, control enhancement, and anxiety buffering, through downward-comparison —comparing oneself to less fortunate others can increase one's own subjective sense of well-being and therefore boost one's self-esteem.
Current views of stigma, from the perspectives of both the stigmatizer and the stigmatized person, consider the process of stigma to be highly situationally specific, dynamic, complex and nonpathological. German born sociologist and historian Gerhard Falk wrote: All societies will always stigmatize some conditions and some behaviors because doing so provides for group solidarity by delineating "outsiders" from "insiders".
Falk  describes stigma based on two categories, existential stigma and achieved stigma. He defines existential stigma as "stigma deriving from a condition which the target of the stigma either did not cause or over which he has little control.
Falk concludes that "we and all societies will always stigmatize some condition and some behavior because doing so provides for group solidarity by delineating 'outsiders' from 'insiders'".
The majority of stigma researchers have found the process of stigmatization has a long history and is cross-culturally ubiquitous.
Bruce Link and Jo Phelan propose that stigma exists when four specific components converge: In this model stigmatization is also contingent on "access to social , economic , and political power that allows the identification of differences, construction of stereotypes , the separation of labeled persons into distinct groups, and the full execution of disapproval, rejection , exclusion, and discrimination. Identifying which human differences are salient, and therefore worthy of labeling, is a social process.
There are two primary factors to examine when considering the extent to which this process is a social one. The first issue is that significant oversimplification is needed to create groups.
The broad groups of black and white , homosexual and heterosexual , the sane and the mentally ill ; and young and old are all examples of this. Secondly, the differences that are socially judged to be relevant differ vastly according to time and place.
An example of this is the emphasis that was put on the size of forehead and faces of individuals in the late 19th century—which was believed to be a measure of a person's criminal nature. The second component of this model centers on the linking of labeled differences with stereotypes.
Goffman's work made this aspect of stigma prominent and it has remained so ever since. This process of applying certain stereotypes to differentiated groups of individuals has attracted a large amount of attention and research in recent decades. Thirdly, linking negative attributes to groups facilitates separation into "us" and "them". Seeing the labeled group as fundamentally different causes stereotyping with little hesitation.
At this extreme, the most horrific events occur. The fourth component of stigmatization in this model includes "status loss and discrimination ". Many definitions of stigma do not include this aspect, however these authors believe that this loss occurs inherently as individuals are "labeled, set apart, and linked to undesirable characteristics.
Thus, stigmatization by the majorities, the powerful, or the "superior" leads to the Othering of the minorities, the powerless, and the "inferior". Where by the stigmatized individuals become disadvantaged due to the ideology created by "the self," which is the opposing force to "the Other. The authors also emphasize [ citation needed ] the role of power social , economic , and political power in stigmatization. While the use of power is clear in some situations, in others it can become masked as the power differences are less stark.
An extreme example of a situation in which the power role was explicitly clear was the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis. On the other hand, an example of a situation in which individuals of a stigmatized group have "stigma-related processes" [ clarification needed ] occurring would be the inmates of a prison. It is imaginable that each of the steps described above would occur regarding the inmates' thoughts about the guards.
However, this situation cannot involve true stigmatization, according to this model, because the prisoners do not have the economic, political, or social power to act on these thoughts with any serious discriminatory consequences.
Hughey explains that prior research on stigma has emphasized individual and group attempts to reduce stigma by 'passing as normal', by shunning the stigmatized, or through selective disclosure of stigmatized attributes. Yet, some actors may embrace particular markings of stigma e. Hence, Hughey argues that some actors do not simply desire to 'pass into normal' but may actively pursue a stigmatized identity formation process in order to experience themselves as causal agents in their social environment.
Hughey calls this phenomenon 'stigma allure'. While often incorrectly attributed to Goffman the "Six Dimensions of Stigma" were not his invention. They were developed to augment Goffman's two levels — the discredited and the discreditable.
Goffman considered individuals whose stigmatizing attributes are not immediately evident. In that case, the individual can encounter two distinct social atmospheres. In the first, he is discreditable —his stigma has yet to be revealed, but may be revealed either intentionally by him in which case he will have some control over how or by some factor he cannot control.
Of course, it also might be successfully concealed; Goffman called this passing. In this situation, the analysis of stigma is concerned only with the behaviors adopted by the stigmatized individual to manage his identity: In the second atmosphere, he is discredited —his stigma has been revealed and thus it affects not only his behavior but the behavior of others.
There are six dimensions that match these two types of stigma: In Unraveling the contexts of stigma , authors Campbell and Deacon describe Goffman's universal and historical forms of Stigma as the following. Stigma occurs when an individual is identified as deviant , linked with negative stereotypes that engender prejudiced attitudes, which are acted upon in discriminatory behavior. Goffman illuminated how stigmatized people manage their "Spoiled identity" meaning the stigma disqualifies the stigmatized individual from full social acceptance before audiences of normals.
He focused on stigma, not as a fixed or inherent attribute of a person, but rather as the experience and meaning of difference. Gerhard Falk expounds upon Goffman's work by redefining deviant as "others who deviate from the expectations of a group" and by categorizing deviance into two types:.
The physically disabled, mentally ill, homosexuals, and a host of others who are labeled deviant because they deviate from the expectations of a group, are subject to stigmatization- the social rejection of numerous individuals, and often entire groups of people who have been labeled deviant.
Communication is involved in creating, maintaining, and diffusing stigmas, and enacting stigmatization. Stigma, though powerful and enduring, is not inevitable, and can be challenged. There are two important aspects to challenging stigma: To challenge stigmatization, Campbell et al. In relation to challenging the internalized stigma of the stigmatized, Paulo Freire 's theory of critical consciousness is particularly suitable.
Cornish provides an example of how sex workers in Sonagachi , a red light district in India, have effectively challenged internalized stigma by establishing that they are respectable women, who admirably take care of their families, and who deserve rights like any other worker.
Stigmatized groups often harbor cultural tools to respond to stigma and to create a positive self-perception among their members. For example, advertising professionals have been shown to suffer from negative portrayal and low approval rates. However, the advertising industry collectively maintains narratives describing how advertisement is a positive and socially valuable endeavor, and advertising professionals draw on these narratives to respond to stigma. Research undertaken to determine effects of social stigma primarily focuses on disease-associated stigmas.
Disabilities, psychiatric disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases are among the diseases currently scrutinized by researchers. In studies involving such diseases, both positive and negative effects of social stigma have been discovered. Members of stigmatized groups may have lower self-esteem than those of nonstigmatized groups. A test could not be taken on the overall self-esteem of different races. Researchers would have to take into account whether these people are optimistic or pessimistic, whether they are male or female and what kind of place they grew up in.
Over the last two decades, many studies have reported that African Americans show higher global self-esteem than whites even though, as a group, African Americans tend to receive poorer outcomes in many areas of life and experience significant discrimination and stigma.
Empirical research on stigma associated with mental disorders, pointed to a surprising attitude of the general public. Those who were told that mental disorders had a genetic basis were more prone to increase their social distance from the mentally ill, and also to assume that the ill were dangerous individuals, in contrast with those members of the general public who were told that the illnesses could be explained by social and environment factors.
Furthermore, those informed of the genetic basis were also more likely to stigmatize the entire family of the ill. Currently, several researchers believe that mental disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Therefore, this biological rationale suggests that individuals struggling with a mental illness do not have control over the origin of the disorder. Much like cancer or another type of physical disorder, persons suffering from mental disorders should be supported and encouraged to seek help.
Unlike physical disabilities , there is a negative social stigma surrounding mental illness, with those suffering being perceived to have control of their disabilities and being responsible for causing them. How particular mental disorders are represented in the media can vary, as well as the stigma associated with each.
In the music industry, specifically in the genre of hip-hop or rap, those who speak out on mental illness are heavily criticized. However, according to a The Huffington Post article, there's a significant increase in rappers who are breaking their silence on depression and anxiety. Throughout history, addiction has largely been seen as a moral failing or character flaw, as opposed to an issue of public health. In Taiwan , strengthening the psychiatric rehabilitation system has been one of the primary goals of the Department of Health since This is because society in general has stereotyped views about mental illness and how it affects people.
Many people believe that people with mental ill health are violent and dangerous, when in fact they are more at risk of being attacked or harming themselves than harming other people. Stigma and discrimination can also worsen someone's mental health problems, and delay or impede their getting help and treatment, and their recovery. Social isolation, poor housing, unemployment and poverty are all linked to mental ill health. So stigma and discrimination can trap people in a cycle of illness.
The situation is exacerbated by the media. Media reports often link mental illness with violence, or portray people with mental health problems as dangerous, criminal, evil, or very disabled and unable to live normal, fulfilled lives. Research shows that the best way to challenge these stereotypes is through firsthand contact with people with experience of mental health problems. A number of national and local campaigns are trying to change public attitudes to mental illness. These include the national voluntary sector campaign Time to Change.
The Equality Act makes it illegal to discriminate directly or indirectly against people with mental health problems in public services and functions, access to premises, work, education, associations and transport. Our President Dinesh Bhugra discusses the pressing issue of discrimination and stigmatisation of mental health problems around the world.
One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives.
Social stigma contributes to poor mental health in the autistic community
One additional way social workers may seek to mitigate social stigma on a micro- level is via the family. Family. It's what mental health professionals call “social stigma.” Essentially, social stigma is the negative view that others can project onto people who. PDF | This paper presents an integrative review of current and classic theory and research on social stigma and its consequences for the.