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Stigma of mental illness and ways of diminishing it

  • Peter Byrne

Stigma is defined as a sign of disgrace or discredit, which sets a person apart from others. The stigma of mental illness, although more often related to context than to a person's appearance, remains a powerful negative attribute in all social relations. Sociological interest in psychiatric stigma was given added vigour with the publication of Stigma – Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (Goffman, 1963). More recently, psychiatrists have begun to re-examine the consequences of stigma for their patients. In 1989, the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting's theme ‘overcoming stigma’ was subsequently published as a collection of articles (Fink & Tasman, 1992), and last year saw the launch of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' five-year Changing Minds anti-stigma campaign.

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Stigma of mental illness and ways of diminishing it

  • Peter Byrne
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