Article

Biogenetic explanations and public acceptance of mental illness: Systematic review of population studies

Centre for Public Mental Health, Gösing am Wagram, Austria.
The British journal of psychiatry: the journal of mental science (Impact Factor: 7.34). 11/2011; 199(5):367-72. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.085563
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Biological or genetic models of mental illness are commonly expected to increase tolerance towards people with mental illness, by reducing notions of responsibility and blame.
To investigate whether biogenetic causal attributions of mental illness among the general public are associated with more tolerant attitudes, whether such attributions are related to lower perceptions of guilt and responsibility, to what extent notions of responsibility are associated with rejection of people who are mentally ill, and how prevalent notions of responsibility are among the general public with regard to different mental disorders.
A systematic review was conducted of representative population studies examining attitudes towards people with mental illness and beliefs about such disorders.
We identified 33 studies relevant to this review. Generally, biogenetic causal attributions were not associated with more tolerant attitudes; they were related to stronger rejection in most studies examining schizophrenia. No published study reported on associations of biogenetic causal attributions and perceived responsibility. The stereotype of self-responsibility was unrelated to rejection in most studies. Public images of mental disorder are generally dominated by the stereotypes of unpredictability and dangerousness, whereas responsibility is less relevant.
Biogenetic causal models are an inappropriate means of reducing rejection of people with mental illness.

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    • "Most studies, however, analyse the two types of beliefs separately (Angermeyer et al., 2011, 2013; Kvaale et al., 2013; Pilkington et al., 2013; Read et al., 2013a,b; Walker and Read, 2002). An advantage of this approach is illustrated by a study that adopted both approaches (Read and Harre, 2001). "
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    • "The relationship between biogenetic causal beliefs and negative attitudes towards mentally ill people has been a long lasting discussion in the literature (e.g. Angermeyer and Matschinger 2005; Cook and Wang 2011; Hill and Bale 1981; Jorm and Griffiths 2008; Lincoln et al. 2008; Mehta and Farina 1997; "
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