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How does stigma affect people with mental illness?


I must take exception to your article. People may experience discrimination, but to argue that that discrimination is "stigma" is to again assault the victim. Women told us very bluntly to stop associating that term with rape. It is a verbal assault following a physical one, and was experienced as that by many women's rights advocates. I experience it in no other way. No, I am not a "service user," what ever that abstraction is meant to convey, and not, never would I leave unchallenged the rudeness, "stigma." It is solely a social impropriety and ought be addressed as such. No one would dare direct that prejudice at me without immediate call for apology and better manners. There was, is and will always be a reason for calling an act of discrimination a "stigma." It directs attention away from the claimant. It is a very clever device. So may I address the claimant in this instance: You, and the editorial policies that you represent. As I was trained as a youth to direct that term at rape survivors, you have been trained to direct it at me, to be complicit in directing it at me. I am offended. This article has been double-blind peer reviewed As a former editor of a psychiatric journal, hired specifically to examine the linguistic prejudices of authors, people trapped by prejudices exist at every level of a society. Prejudices against women were "peer reviewed," women not among the peers. It again is a clever technique. And as a professional yourself, if someone directs this prejudice, who but professionals have the responsibility to end it? Harold A Maio In your Jan 14 Editorial (p 86),1 you write that “for many people a diagnosis of depression is made worse by the social stigma that still clings to all mental-health diagnoses…” I do not agree with your assertion, which implies a universal prejudice. Some people may hold to this particular prejudice, as some will hold to almost any prejudice, but I cannot fathom why you would wish to affirm this odious practice. As a former editor of a psychiatric journal, I have seen no attempt to identify the individuals who impose this “stigma”, although I have noted many passive confirmations of it. In my interactions as lecturer, I have yet to discover even one person who purposefully, intentionally, imposes “stigma”. And I am not aware of any research that identifies, quantifies, or qualifies just who allegedly imposes this “stigma”. Each person claiming its existence cites an anonymous “they”. As a person who has for most if his life dealt with a psychiatric illness—severe depression—I can unequivocally state that the people with whom I have had the opportunity to interact have imposed no such prejudice on me. Nor would I tolerate it, as I would not tolerate any other act of rudeness, for that is all it is. And finally, should one naively accept the validity of your claim, whose responsibility would it be to end this perception, this rudeness, but people in mental health professions and journals like The Lancet? I declare that I have no conflict of interest. Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor

Posted date

9 July, 2012

Posted time

1:07 am