The Role of Gender in Mental-Illness Stigma

Purdue University.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 02/2009; 20(2):169-73. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02282.x
Source: PubMed


The stigma of mental illness imposes substantial costs on both the individuals who experience mental illness and society at large. Understanding the psychological underpinnings of this stigma is therefore a matter of practical and theoretical significance. In a national, Web-based survey experiment, we investigated the role played by gender in moderating mental-illness stigma. Respondents read a case summary in which the gender of the person was orthogonally manipulated along with the type of disorder; the cases reflected either a male-typical disorder or a female-typical disorder. Results indicated that when cases were gender typical, respondents felt more negative affect, less sympathy, and less inclination to help, compared to when cases were gender atypical. This pattern can be explained by the fact that gender-typical cases were significantly less likely to be seen as genuine mental disturbances.

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Available from: James Wirth, May 19, 2014
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    • "Gender differences, gender-typical symptoms , and stigmatisation have been previously studied by Wirth and Bodenhausen (2009), and although their study focused on the relationship between gender and public stigma, some of the processes they uncovered may analogue to the processes at play in the relationship between gender and SBA. Specifically, Wirth and Bodenhausen (2009) examined whether a PWMI's gender moderates the degree of stigma experienced and found that gender-typical behaviour is attributed to the personal traits of the actor, what may result in greater blame, and being held personally responsible for the stigmatised condition (Weiner, 1995; Wirth & Bodenhausen, 2009). In the context of female family members of PWMI, it may be that overprotectiveness lends itself to blaming as it is perceived by others to represent typically female behaviour and may lead them to hold these women personally responsible for the onset or continuation of their family members' mental illness (Wirth & Bodenhausen, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: People with mental illness are not the sole recipients of stigmatisation; their immediate family members may be subjected to stigma by association. Through semi-structured interviews, we investigated experiences of stigma by association among 23 immediate family members of people with mental illness. Participants reported experiencing stigma by association from community members, mental health professionals, and civil servants. Familial relationship, co-residence, and the gender of participants appeared to play a role in their stigma experiences; parents and spouses reported different manifestations of stigma by association than siblings and children, participants who lived together with their family member with mental illness reported increased experiences of stigma by association, and in contrast to male participants, female participants reported others thinking they are overprotective and as such perpetuated, maintained, or sustained their family members' mental illness. The relevance of these factors points to the need for tailored education and emotional support provision to family members of people with mental illness. Moreover, in-service training for mental health professionals should include the development of relevant social skills that enable the recognition of familial relationships and roles, and family members' fears, concerns, and problems. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 09/2015; 25(5). DOI:10.1002/casp.2221 · 1.19 Impact Factor
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    • "Controversy exists regarding whether true gender differences exist for BPD, or whether there is a bias in the DSM criteria or their application . A recent study (Wirth & Bodenhausen, 2009) suggests that reactions may be more negative toward individuals with mental illness when their symptoms are viewed as more gender typical. "
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    ABSTRACT: Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) appear more likely than individuals with other mental disorders to evoke negative countertransference reactions. The current study examined countertransference toward BPD across client- (e.g., client age and gender) and clinician-level (e.g., age, discipline, clinical experience, training) factors. Participants (N = 560) completed an anonymous online survey in which they read case information describing a client with BPD and answered questions to assess their reactions toward the client. The study used a 2 × 2 between-subjects design in which client age and gender were experimentally manipulated. Despite receiving the same vignette, clinicians were more accurate in diagnosing the female client with BPD than the male client, and clinician reactions differed as a function of client age and clinician experience. Specifically, clinicians viewed adolescent clients with BPD as less ill, less trustworthy, and more dangerous than adults with BPD; more clinical experience among clinicians was associated with more positive reactions to clients. Findings help to better understand countertransference reactions and the ways they may impact diagnostic choices and treatment decisions. The implications of these findings for facilitating better clinician-client matching, reducing clinician burnout, and improving treatment experiences for individuals with BPD are discussed.
    American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 01/2013; 83(1):115-125. DOI:10.1111/ajop.12002 · 1.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The two types of stigmatization are social stigma, which includes discrimination, underestimation and distance in various social circumstances and personal stigma, which includes private relation i.e. a contact in person with stigmatized subject. Majority of recent publications has shown gender asymmetry in stigmatization (mostly indicating male predominance in stigmatizing processes), whereas the opposite data can be also found in some publications. The present study was aimed at exploring the relation of students' gender with their tendency to stigmatize subjects visiting a psychiatrist and at analyzing whether the gender influences the process of stigmatization. The survey included 523 students (227 on the second and 296 on the sixth year of School of Medicine, University of Belgrade). The instrument consisted of a vignette with questionnaire (14 items). Four versions of vignette were distributed: with/without "label" and male/female subject in the vignette. A more personal stigmatization was evident in the female students (p < 0.05). while no gender-differences existed in social stigmatization (p > 0.05). The stigmatization positively correlated with the intimacy of student's relation with the subject going to a psychiatrist. A higher rate of stigmatization was evident if the vignette was showing a person of the opposite gender. This is a unique study which analyzes separately the gender of a stigmatizing subject versus the subject being stigmatized and types of stigmatization. The data obtained should contribute to recognizing, understanding and controlling the widespread problem of stigma.
    Medicinski pregled 63(9-10):638-42.
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