Illness role theory, the labeling perspective and the social meanings of mental illness: An empirical test

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA; Department of Public Welfare, State of Nebraska, USA
Social Science & Medicine. Part A: Medical Psychology & Medical Sociology DOI: 10.1016/0271-7123(79)90110-X

ABSTRACT Data from a sample of mental patients and the general public is used to test a series of hypotheses linking the individual's understanding of his deviance to his impairment in social roles and his contact with psychiatric treatment sources. The relationships examined are derived from illness role theory and the labeling or societal reaction theory of mental disorder. While some support is found for both theories, we conclude that neither perspective alone adequately explains the ways in which persons interpret their problematic feelings and behaviors.

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