Social stigma is defined as an individual or group being disapproved of, judged, or mistreated because of a characteristic, either perceived or based upon something which the individual has no control of. This stigma separates these individuals from other members of the society. Social stigma varies in different cultures, as well as amongst different groups of people in a particular culture.
Stigma is a Greek word that originally referred to a marking or tattoo that was burned or cut into the skin of slaves, traitors, or criminals. It made it so they could be visibly identified by others as unjust members of society. People with these markings were avoided, especially when they were in public.
There are several types of social stigmas, and they commonly occur in different forms. The most common types of stigmas include:
Stigma has been identified into six separated dimensions. These allow one to better understand the underlying concepts of which stigma is defined. The six dimensions of stigma include:
Stigma holds several negative effects from those who have a stigma attached to them. Stigma has shown to reduce self-esteem and create social isolation. Social stigma can also interfere with educational and career opportunities. Social distancing is a term used to describe when people are unwilling to socialise with another person based on upon stigma.
The discrimination associated with stigma has a significant impact on a person’s self-confidence and quality of life. It often is accompanied by ridicule, and oftentimes physical and/or psychological abuse from others.
This involves individuals who are discriminated against based on any mental illness they might have. It relates to their state of mind and context of character rather than their physical appearance.
This refers to the social stigma attached to individuals who have a substance abuse or addiction problem. These are negative perceptions about addicts that often ruin family relationships, as well as prevent them from seeking treatment.
Self-stigma refers to individuals with internal negative beliefs and attitudes about themselves that keep them from seeking out relationships with others, social support, or treatment for mental health conditions.
This involves the attitudes and discrimination by members of a society towards an individual or group based upon various negative beliefs.
Mental Health Stigma: Society, Individuals, and the Profession, Brian K. Ahmedani, Ph.D., MSW, NCBI
Definitions of Stigma and Discrimination, Disability Rights California