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Abstract

This study describes stress as derived from minority status and explores its effect on psychological distress in gay men. The concept of minority stress is based on the premise that gay people in a heterosexist society are subjected to chronic stress related to their stigmatization. Minority stressors were conceptualized as: internalized homophobia, which relates to gay men's direction of societal negative attitudes toward the self; stigma, which relates to expectations of rejection and discrimination; and actual experiences of discrimination and violence. The mental health effects of the three minority stressors were tested in a community sample of 741 New York City gay men. The results supported minority stress hypotheses: each of the stressors had a significant independent association with a variety of mental health measures. Odds ratios suggested that men who had high levels of minority stress were twice to three times as likely to suffer also from high levels of distress.
... Minority stress refers to an individual's experience of adverse social conditions due to their minority identity. Minority stress theory (Meyer, 1995(Meyer, , 2003 posits that mental health disparities experienced by sexual minority people (e.g., lesbian and bisexual women) can be explained by such stressors, which are often induced by cis-heterosexist environments. Accordingly, it is reasonable to assume a relationship between safe/content positive affect and minority stress in lesbian and bisexual women. ...
... Drawing on the framework of minority stress theory (Meyer, 1995(Meyer, , 2003, the present study examined potential mediators in the relationship between internalized sexual stigma and positive health outcomes (e.g., safe/content positive affect) within the lesbian and bisexual population (Lewis et al., 2012). Prior research analyzing different types of positive affect in the general population has shown that safe/content positive affect has the highest negative correlations with stress and self-criticism (Gilbert et al., 2008) and a positive association with self-reassurance (Greene & Britton, 2015). ...
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Research has linked feelings of safety and contentment to lower adverse mental health outcomes (e.g., stress, anxiety, depression) in the general population. The current study aimed at exploring the relationship between safe/content positive affect and minority stress (e.g., internalized sexual stigma) in lesbian and bisexual women, considering the effect of potential mediators such as identity self-awareness and identity uncertainty. An online survey was administered to 400 Italian women (220 lesbian and 180 bisexual women), aged 18-40 years (M = 25.98, SD = 6.07). The results showed that lesbian women reported lower internalized sexual stigma and identity uncertainty and higher safe/content positive affect and identity self-awareness, relative to bisexual women. Higher internalized sexual stigma predicted lower safe/content positive affect, regardless of sexual orientation. Furthermore, identity self-awareness and identity uncertainty significantly mediated the relationship between internalized sexual stigma and safe/content feelings, thus confirming the protective role of sexual identity variables on lesbian and bisexual women's positive affectivity. Finally, univariate analyses suggested that lesbian women were more resilient than bisexual women in the face of minority stressors. The results contribute to the understanding of the differences between lesbian and bisexual women in their perception of salient identity categories. In addition, the findings highlight the relevance of protective factors (e.g., identity certainty, lesbian and bisexual positive identity) in ameliorating the adverse effects of minority stress and promoting positive affect and social adjustment in lesbian and bisexual women. Research and clinical implications and directions are discussed.
... This socio-political reverb results in disparate life chances and disproportionate disadvantage throughout the life course and across social contexts and institutions. The minority stress model was originally developed to connect lesbian women's (Brooks 1981;Rich et al. 2020), and later gay men's (Meyer 1995(Meyer , 2003, experiences of poor mental health to the heteronormative social conflicts they experience related to their sexuality. Importantly, this model was developed to push back against the widespread assumptions that lesbians and gay men experienced negative mental health outcomes due to a sexual minority identity in and of itself. ...
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In 2021, the United States experienced the most active year on record for anti-trans legislation. In 2022, we are witnessing the renewal of this legislative harassment, with increased success on the part of anti-trans lawmakers. When these bills are passed into law and, importantly, even when they are resoundingly defeated or fail to reach an actual vote, the harmful rhetoric and ideology that is attached to them reverberates throughout trans communities resulting in social and psychological harm for transgender, nonbinary, and gender diverse people. The burden of addressing and offsetting this harm is often placed on the shoulders of other trans people who serve as grassroots leaders in their communities. This article argues that while this support is lifesaving for individual trans people, transformative change requires an increase in structural competency in our mainstream social institutions, and makes the case for applied trans studies as a pathway to that end.
... Our current study was grounded in the minority stress theory (Brooks, 1981;Meyer, 1995Meyer, , 2003Meyer & Frost, 2013) to examine the disparities between sexual minority and heterosexual youth in China. Minority stress theory posits that sexual minorities tend to have poorer mental, physical, and behavioral health outcomes due to more frequent exposure to prejudicial events, including SAH. ...
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Sexual assault and harassment (SAH) has become an increasing global concern that disproportionately impacts gender and sexual minority youth, yet research is scarce outside Western nations. In addition, sexual assault and sexual harassment are closely related experiences in both academic inquiries on sexual victimization and public discussion in the global #Metoo movement. Drawing from a large Chinese college student sample (N = 50,818), we investigated the prevalence of SAH victimization during childhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood, as well as the SAH disparities between sexual minority and heterosexual youth. The population‐weighted prevalence of SAH victimization was estimated to be 20.23% during childhood, 42.87% during adolescence, and 21.87% during emerging adulthood, with more than half of the youth (55.41%) having ever experienced any SAH. Logistic regression results suggested girls and sexual minorities were disproportionally impacted across childhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood. The discussion is framed in the context of Chinese culture and current Chinese legislation related to SAH.
... The minority stress theory by Meyer (1995Meyer ( , 2003 provides a useful and widely accepted paradigm to explain the vast differences in mental health outcomes for cis-heterosexual and queer individuals. The theory states that queer individuals experience mental health conditions due to the stigma, prejudice and discrimination they experience because of belonging to a minority group that is termed as minority stress. ...
Chapter
Discrimination towards the LGBTQIA+ community has an impact on mental health that is described using the minority stress theory by Meyer. The authors are mental health professionals in India who hypothesize that in India, families are the dominant source of minority stress. They explain how in India's collectivistic framework, families are cis-hetero-patriarchal and contribute to distal stress through direct and indirect violence and proximal stress through forcing concealment, internalized homo and trans-negativity, perceived rejection, and internalized guilt. LGBTQIA+ individuals in India use three pathways to manage minority stress: living within the script (i.e., heterosexual marriages and dual lives), subverting the script (i.e., trying to fit queer relationships in a societally acceptable framework), or rewriting the script (i.e., choosing to live alone, having families of choice, and practising non-traditional relationship structures). Legal provisions that aid and inhibit these are discussed. Ways to build community resilience are suggested.
... It is important to acknowledge that sexual minorities may be especially vulnerable to any psychosocial challenges from their experience with institutions of religion because they are, generally speaking, at higher risk of poorer mental health than their heterosexual counterparts (Caplan 2017;Cochran 2001;King et al. 2008;Meyer 2003). The classic "minority stress" perspective, originally conceptualized by Brooks (1981), suggests that the stigma, discrimination, and prejudice experienced by sexual minorities are the root cause of these disparities (Meyer 1995(Meyer , 2003. From this perspective, sexual minorities may experience participation in certain religious settings as more of a risk factor than a protective factor or perhaps as a unique mixture of the two that could contribute to poorer mental health (when religious risks are salient) or no differences (when religious risks and resources offset) in mental health during the transition to adulthood. ...
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Given that sexual minorities have been historically stigmatized within institutions of religion, they may be less likely to exhibit any health benefits from religious participation. In this paper, we use data from Waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to test whether the effects of religious affiliation (becoming affiliated with a religious group) and disaffiliation (no longer affiliating with a religious group) on depressive symptoms are moderated by sexual minority status from adolescence to early adulthood. In regression models adjusted for selection effects, we observed that, compared to respondents who were consistently unaffiliated, becoming affiliated was associated with more depressive symptoms from baseline to follow-up among LGB respondents, but not among heterosexual respondents. We conclude with the implications of our results as they relate to understanding the health impacts of marginalized groups in social institutions and the importance of selection effects.
... As the number of youth who identify with a sexual minority identity is increasing (Jones, 2021) it is imperative that we identify and address the disproportionate risk for violence that they experience. These experiences of minority stress (Meyer, 1995) have been linked with multiple deleterious outcomes for youth (Hatzenbuehler, 2009;Meyer, 2003), and efforts to prevent violence should reflect the experiences of SMY. While creating violence prevention programs that are conscious and inclusive of SMY, along with promoting sexuality-specific supports such as GSAs are important steps, many of these efforts are focused among high schoolers. ...
Article
Sexual minority youth (SMY) are at increased risk for interpersonal violence victimization compared to heterosexual youth. The current study examined how self-reported victimization (i.e., bullying, sexual harassment and dating violence) among middle school youth varied as a function of sexual/romantic attraction as well as gender identity. Cross-sectional data were gathered from students at seven middle schools in New England (n = 2245). Mean comparisons with post-hoc Tukey tests determined differences in rates of past 6-month and lifetime interpersonal violence victimization by sexual/romantic attraction and the intersection of gender and attraction. As hypothesized, interpersonal violence victimization among middle school youth differed as a function of sexual/romantic attraction as well as gender. To date, most research has focused on older samples, particularly high-school youth and young adults. These data are consistent with these prior studies documenting increased risk for interpersonal violence victimization among youth who indicate same-gender attraction but add to the literature in demonstrating the expansive forms of peer victimization that same-gender-attracted youth already experience by early adolescence. Given that victimization is associated acutely and longitudinally with many deleterious outcomes, including poorer mental health and increased risk for subsequent victimization, greater structural supports are needed for early adolescent SMY.
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Physicians can play a critical role in helping lesbian, gay, and bisexual-identified (LGB) individuals face minority stress. The current questionnaire study among 305 medical students (62.6% women/37.4% men; Mage = 23.4, SD = 3.2) assessed whether medical students learn about LGB-specific concepts at an Austrian medical university. Students reported that their education contained little content about LGB-specific concepts. The majority of students did not hold negative attitudes toward homosexuality and they would like a larger range of courses concerning LGB-specific topics. The barrier most strongly associated with the intention to ask future patients about their sexual orientation was the belief that sexual orientation was irrelevant for clinical practice. Future education programs on LGB-specific topics may not need to focus on reducing negative attitudes toward sexual minorities, but should contain more facts on LGB individuals' specific healthcare needs and explain to students why a patient's sexual orientation is important to healthcare.
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Recent research shows that the crucial factor determining the rejection of former mental patients is their behavior rather than their stigmantized status. The study reported here, based on a vignette experiment (with a design that varies patient status with the nature of behavior), challenges this conclusion. Like previous research, it indicates that a simple assessment of labelings shows little effect on a social distance scale. However, when a measure of perceived dangerousness of mental patients is introduced, strong labeling effects emerge. Specifically, the data reveal that the lable of "previous hospitalization" fosters high social distance among those who perceive mental patients to be dangerous and low social distance among those who do not see patients as a threat. It appears that past investigators have missed these effects because they have averaged excessively lenient responses with excessively rejecting ones. This suggests that labels play an important role in how former mental patients are p...
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Although several psychological theories predict that members of stigmatized groups should have low global self-esteem, empirical research typically does not support this prediction. It is proposed here that this discrepancy may be explained by considering the ways in which membership in a stigmatized group may protect the self-concept. It is proposed that members of stigmatized groups may (a) attribute negative feedback to prejudice against their group, (b) compare their outcomes with those of the ingroup, rather than with the relatively advantaged outgroup, and (c) selectively devalue those dimensions on which their group fares poorly and value those dimensions on which their group excels. Evidence for each of these processes and their consequences for self-esteem and motivation is reviewed. Factors that moderate the use of these strategies and implications of this analysis for treatment of stigmas are also discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This article describes some of the major psychosocial challenges faced by lesbian and gay male survivors of hate crimes, their significant others, and the gay community as a whole. When an individual is attacked because she or he is perceived to be gay, the negative mental health consequences of victimization converge with those resulting from societal heterosexism to create a unique set of problems. Such victimization represents a crisis for the individual, creating opportunities for growth as well as risks for impairment. The principal risk associated with anti-gay victimization is that the survivor's homosexuality becomes directly linked to her or his newly heightened sense of vulnerability. The problems faced by lesbian and gay male victims of sexual assault, and the psychological impact of verbal abuse also are discussed. Suggestions are offered to assist practitioners in helping the survivors of anti-gay hate crimes.
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Thomas Scheff's labeling approach to mental illness is based on reactions of other to "residual rule-breaking." This article develops a theory of self-labeling processes to account for the unexplained phenomenon of voluntary treatment seeking. By taking the role of the generalized other, individual can assess the meaning of their impulses and actions. When individuals observe themselves frequently or persistently breaking "residual rules," they attribute disturbance to themselves and may seek professional help. Drawing from Hochschild and Pugliesi, the article reconceptualized " residual rule-breaking" as violations of feeling or expression norms. When individuals are unable to manage or transform deviant feelings, self-attributions of disturbance should result. The conditions under which feeling management attempts are likely to fail and result in self-attributions of disturbance are outlined in the context of a more general theory of emotional processes. Some conditions under which labeling by others ma...
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White racism has influenced theory and practice in psychiatry and allied fields. Psychiatrists have largely ignored the interactionist approach, as expounded by Sullivan and Rush, in analyzing Negroes within their respective societies. Rather, in the vein of Freudian preoccupation with unconscious motivation, abnormal behavior and what is considered innate individual differences, psychiatrists have arrived at broad generalizations of individual and group behavior based on past histories and present conditions of mentally disturbed, maladaptive patients. Psychiatrists have drawn upon theories of genetic, physiological, and psychological determinism to reinforce the myth of black inferiority. The mental health professions must reexamine the impact of racist thinking, past and present, on the disciplines dealing with human behavior--especially psychiatry. They must do some basic rethinking in areas such as recruitment and training of black psychiatrists, the referral procedure of white psychiatrists, research, and upgrading of patient services in the black community. (Author/SB)
Developed a community-based sample of 746 20–70 yr old homosexual men from the New York City population, using a combination of (1) recruitment from sources within the gay community and (2) personal referral by Ss recruited through these sources. S population was comparable to randomly drawn San Francisco samples (e.g., W. Winkelstein et al; 1987) in terms of age, race, and degree of "being out of the closet." Although sample selection using conventional probability techniques should be the method of choice, a reasonably representative sample appears to have been assembled in the absence of a citywide sampling frame, a door-to-door enumeration, or a random-digit dialing screening procedure. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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A review of the literature on the relation of life events, stress, and illness shows the clear recognition that illness onset is the outcome of multiple characteristics of the individual interacting with interdependent factors in the individual's social context, in the presence of a disease agent. The conceptual model is comprehensive, multicausal, and interactive; empirical designs should consider this complexity. Crucial in the process of measuring relationships between change in life events and illness onset are the psychometric properties of the measures used and the method of data collection that is employed. The importance of (a) thorough conceptualization and sampling, (b) multidimensional scaling of item samples to identify common dimensions of life events, (c) determination of the true variance and stability of the measures over a variety of populations is stressed. In retrospective studies, important sources of error in measuring life events are selective memory, denial of events, and overreporting to justify an illness. In prospective studies, the subjective evaluation of the significance of a life event to a respondent has been neglected. It is concluded that improvement in data analytic procedures remains a major challenge for life events investigators. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
To assess stress — the demands placed on the individual by his or her environment — life-event checklists and lists of daily hassles have been widely used. Such instruments are intended to reflect harmful, threatening, or challenging aspects of the environment, but they are likely to be strongly influenced by characteristics of the respondent, especially the personality disposition of neuroticism. Individuals high on this dimension perceive life as stressful, cope poorly, are dissatisfied with social supports, have low psychological well-being, and make more somatic complaints. Relations among these variables may be due to the common influence of neuroticism rather than processes of stress and coping. Longitudinal designs and objective outcome measures can reduced the confounding effect of neuroticism. By including measures of neuroticism in their designs, researchers can increase their understanding of the mutual roles of stress and personality in determining mental and physical health. By measuring neuroticism in their clients, stress management practitioners can gain insight into the reports of stressful events and conditions their clients make.
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This report describes progress made to date on a study of the impact of the AIDS epidemic on the gay community of New York City. Using a model of the life stress process described by Barbara Dohrenwend and her colleagues, the AIDS epidemic was conceptualized as a community stressor resulting in two key stress-inducing events: death of loved ones due to AIDS and potential illness and death of oneself due to infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It was hypothesized that these stressors would be significantly related to three domains of health outcomes: sexual behavior, drug and alcohol use, and psychological distress. Descriptive trends over time are provided for both the health outcome variables and the stressor variables. Cross-sectional analyses for 3 years of data provide evidence in support of the main hypothesis. The implications of these findings are discussed from the standpoints of methodology, public health, and the psychology of stress processes in community settings.