What is Stigma?
Stigma is a mark, a sign that somehow discredits the person (Erving Goffman). Being stigmatized refers to being marked for social rejection. Associated emotions include anger, fear, pity, and disgust. Being labeled as “mentally ill” can evoke attitudes and beliefs about people in that category. Wahl (1995) argues that the following tend to be associated with the lable “mentally ill”: unpredictable, dangerous, incompetent, childlike, blameworthy, untreatable, and contagious. Negative attitudes and beliefs (i.e., prejudice) may lead to overt discrimination (e.g., housing, employment, education, and civil liberties).