Ingroup perception and responses to stigma among people with mental illness

Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL 60616, USA.
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica (Impact Factor: 5.61). 06/2009; 120(4):320-8. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2009.01403.x
Source: PubMed


Mental illness stigma is common, but it is unclear why it affects some individuals more than others. We tested the hypothesis that the way persons with mental illness perceive their ingroup (people with mental illness) in terms of group value, group identification and entitativity (perception of the ingroup as a coherent unit) shapes their reaction to stigma.
Ingroup perceptions, perceived legitimacy of discrimination and reactions to stigma (educating or helping others, social performance, secrecy, social distance, hopelessness) were assessed among 85 people with mental illness using questionnaires and a standardized role-play test.
Controlling for depression and perceived discrimination, high group value and low perceived legitimacy of discrimination predicted positive reactions to stigma. High group identification and entitativity predicted positive reactions only in the context of high group value or low perceived legitimacy of discrimination.
Group value and perceived legitimacy of discrimination may be useful targets to help people with mental illness to better cope with stigma.

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    • "Group identification, defined as feelings of strong ties to a socially defined collection of people ( Jetten, Branscombe, Schmitt, & Spears, 2001), has been shown to diminish effects of self-stigma on the person with mental illness. People with mental illness who more highly identify with the " group " viewed that group positively (Rüsch et al., 2009) and were less likely to experience harm to self-esteem as a result of internalized stigma (Watson, Corrigan, Larson, & Sells, 2007). Coming Out Proud (COP) is a program designed to decrease selfstigma by helping people consider costs and benefits of disclosure as well as " safe " strategies to do so should they decide to " come out " about their mental illness (Corrigan, "
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    Psychological Science in the Public Interest 10/2014; 15(2):37-70. DOI:10.1177/1529100614531398
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    • "Anticipated shame about a potential own mental illness may become a less abstract emotional experience for respondents with high symptom levels. This process is analogous to self-stigma as a process that requires self-labelling as a person with mental illness so that stereotypes become relevant to oneself (Link, 1987; Corrigan & Watson, 2002; Rüsch et al. 2009b, 2010). Symptoms and their recognition as signs of a mental illness might thus be a two-edged sword: They can facilitate help-seeking, but also induce fear of stigma and self-stigma (Jorm, 2012). "
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