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Understanding of stigma - Dissertation Example

Understanding of Stigma

Stigma is a complex reality consisting of several interconnected parts or components. The discussion on stigma here is in the context of helping to answer the question of how stigma might influence/affect the recovery of people suffering from mental illness. Stigmatization involves the marginalization and discrimination of people and groups who share similar social attributes or categories that have negative connotations and associations among members of the mainstream. Stigma is a social mark in this sense, influenced by social conventions, beliefs, and stereotypes, with the outcomes in terms of interpersonal relationships and economic relationships being adverse or poor for those who are stigmatized (Crocker and Major 1989, pp. 608-609). The literature defines stigma as necessitating five components, which are interlinked, in order to come into being. There is the labeling and identification of differences among people, as one component. Of interest here are labels and differences which have social relevance, including sexuality, skin color, and level of intelligence in standard tests. Stereotyping creation, where certain labels are associated with negative connotations and characteristics, is a second component. The third component involves the separation of them and us, with the separating being done by the group doing the labeling. The fourth component involves the stigmatized group losing status as well as becoming on the receiving end of discrimination by those who belong to the mainstream. The fifth and final component is said to be power and its exercise, without which there can be no stigmatization. This last component is typified by the observation that in cases of reverse stigmatization, with the stigmatized group thinking of outsiders as inferior, the absence of power means that such thinking does not translate to outsiders becoming in turn stigmatized. Stigmatization implies the group making the labels has power to enforce discrimination and take away status (Link and Phelan 2006, p. 538). III. Understanding of Recovery Recovery in the context of people with mental illnesses is likewise a complex process. Such is explored intensively in the literature, covering many interrelated facets (Sirey et al. 2001; Perlick et al. 2001; Link et al. 2001). There is literature that describes the recovery process in general, and in people with mental illness, as occurring on several fronts, with some of the fronts related to how well patients with mental illness recover a sense of well-being, and establish improved self-esteem. Moreover, there are clinical measures for indicating progress or regression on a host of mental illnesses, that are used to determine how well patients are recovering from their illnesses. These are well-mapped out and continue to be examined in earnest in the literature. For instance, there is literature that delinks the overall recovery process in terms of achievement of improvements in clinical symptoms as well as n terms of the overall ability of patients suffering from mental illness to function in normal society, on the one hand, and the way patients recover in terms of self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. It makes sense to see that those factors that ...Show more
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Summary

This paper explores the nature of stigma and recovery for people suffering from mental illnesses, and attempts to answer the question as to how stigma impacts the recovery of such patients with mental illnesses…
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