The Oxford Dictionaries defines stigma as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person: the stigma of mental disorder.”
For some, this means hiding medication when friends come over. For others, the stigma means they’re afraid of telling their boss that they have to take time off for therapy, or that they were hospitalized because of a psychiatric illness. Often a client has family members who don’t know about his illness or treatment because he feels ashamed. And shame is a big, powerful feeling.
Recently, celebrities have been open about their own mental illnesses, and my hope is that this will have a positive impact on the rest of society. Princes Diana brought the problem of self-injury into light. Catherine Zeta Jones’s recent stay in a psychiatric hospital made headlines. John Nash, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1994, inspired the book and film “A Beautiful Mind,” which explored how his schizophrenia and genius are intrinsically intertwined.
We’ve come a long way from the time when people with mental illnesses were locked away for the rest of their lives.
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