2005 issue 2

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Volume 14, issue 2

Review article

Stigma of mental illness

Piotr Świtaj1
1. I Klinika Psychiatryczna Instytutu Psychiatrii i Neurologii w Warszawie
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2005; 14 (2): 131-136
Keywords: stigma, mental illness

Abstract

Objective. The problem of social stigmatization of the mentally ill is characterized in the paper.

Review. The basic theoretical assumptions of the stigmatization concept originating from the work by Erving Goffman, as well as their contemporary developments are presented in the paper. An emphasis was laid on the most comprehensive approach proposed by Link et al.. According to the authors, stigmatization can be recognized if there is a concurrence of labeling, stereotypy, exclusion, emotional reactions, loss of social status, and discrimination, as well as ruling of one social group by another. Major methods of investigating stigmatization in the mentally ill, its effects and the role of mass media in this process are discussed.

Conclusions. Mental illness can be regarded as one of the most powerful socially excluding stigmata. Social stigmatisation and discrimination of persons with mental disorders is a universal problem, ofparticular importance at present, since it hampers or even precludes implementation of the fundamental postulate of contemporary community psychiatry, i.e. social integration of the patients. This social context of mental disorders must be taken into account for their effective treatment.

Address for correspondence:
Dr Piotr Świtaj, I Klinika Psychiatryczna Instytutu Psychiatrii i Neurologii, ul. Sobieskiego 9, 02-957 Warszawa