Millions of people and their families are affected by mental illness; it causes untold pain and severely impairs their ability to function in the world. In recent years, we have begun to understand and develop a range of effective treatments for mental illness. Even with this shift from moralistic views to those emphasizing the biological and genetic origins of mental illness, punitive treatment and outright rejection remain strong. Public attitudes toward mental illness are still more negative than they were half a century ago, and the majority of those afflicted either do not receive or cannot afford adequate care. As a result of all of these troubling facts, applying the term "stigma" to mental illness is particularly appropriate because stigma conveys the mark of shame borne by those in any highly devalued group.
Mental illness tops the list of stigmatized conditions in current society, generating the kinds of stereotypes, fear, and rejection that are reminiscent of longstanding attitudes toward leprosy. Mental disorders threaten stability and order, and media coverage exacerbates this situation by equating mental illness with violence. As a result, stigma is rampant, spurring family silence, discriminatory laws, and social isolation. The pain of mental illness is searing enough, but adding the layer of stigma affects personal well being, economic productivity, and public health, fueling a vicious cycle of lowered expectations, deep shame, and hopelessness.
In this groundbreaking book, Stephen Hinshaw examines the longstanding tendency to stigmatize those with mental illness. He also provides practical strategies for overcoming this serious problem, including enlightened social policies that encourage, rather than discourage, contact with those afflicted, media coverage emphasizing their underlying humanity, family education, and responsive treatment.
Stigma is a deeply inspiring and passionate work that is realistic and filled with hope. It combines personal accounts with information from social and evolutionary psychology, sociology, and public policy to provide messages that are essential for anyone afflicted or familiar with mental illness.
"Everyone needs to understand the pervasiveness of stigma, its effects and how it may be countered. This splendid book provides much the best discussion of the issues--being empirically solid but also personally compassionate, as well as realistic in its expectations. It is also a very good read." --Professor Sir Michael Rutter, Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry
"Particularly thought-provoking is the chapter related to media portrayals of individuals with psychiatric disorders, including examples of powerful interventions by groups attempting to illustrate the prejudice many hold against the mentally ill, as well as suggestions for marketing strategies to eliminate the bias against the population. The book further illustrates the sad and troubling fact that those with mental illness remain second-class citizens despite their ever-growing numbers in the general population."--Doody's
"The content of this book is broad, deep, and fascinating...Hinshaw's skills as a writer cannot be overstated. He uses a mixture of technical and lay language to paint a picture of stigma across the ages that is thoroughly enjoyable to read despite its often distressing content. In addition to being a professor of psychology, Hinshaw comes across as a passionate historian and humanitarian."--Claire M. Kelly, Ph.D., in New England Journal of Medicine
1. What is Mental Disorder and What is Stigma?
2. Perspectives from Social Psychology, Sociology, and Evolutionary Psychology
3. Historical Perspectives on Mental Illness and Stigma
4. Modern Conceptions of Mental Disorder
5. Evidence from Scientific Investigations
6. Indicators of Stigma from Everyday Life
7. Stigma of Mental Illness: An Integration
9. Overcoming Stigma I: Legislation, Policy, and Community Efforts
10. Overcoming Stigma II: Media and Mental Health Professionals
11. Overcoming Stigma III: Families and Individuals
12. Concluding Issues
About the Author:
Stephen P. Hinshaw is Professor and Chair in the Department of Psychology, University of California at Berkeley.