You can't choose your family, say the metaphorical "they," but you can choose your friends. Choose wisely, but bear in mind that regardless of whether or not the decision is yours, you are going to be judged on it. The credit for some of the most seminal work on social stigma goes to Erving Goffman who worked on defining what is meant by social stigma and delineating its variants. According to Goffman, social stigmas may be physical "abominations" such as deformities or handicaps, "tribal stigmas" such as race or religion, and character flaws, such as a criminal record or drug abuse.
Stigmatization of mental health disorders leads to a decreased quality of life, missed opportunities, and lost independence for the affected individual. A new study reports that stigmatization also determines if and when people will seek mental health care for themselves.
A few years ago I brain blogged about domestic violence (DV), focusing on how ideology, politics, and stereotypes were interfering with an effective social response. It got a big response, almost entirely supportive. At that time, the tide was turning because of lawsuits and a preponderance of research that were beginning to overwhelm the dominance of old-school DV responses.
A prevalant stereotype of trauma victims is the person transformed into a serial killer or other threat to society. The Oakland Tribune has gone over the top in reinforcing this stereotype with some truly awful journalism. They dramatically misinterpreted a highly-regarded researcher, Bessel van der Kolk, MD, in their article Scientists Seek to Treat Chronically Traumatized Brains.
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