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Dimensions of Mental Illness Stigma: What About Mental Illness Causes Social Rejection?

The stigma of mental illness can be as harmful as the symptoms, leading to family discord, job discrimination, and social rejection. The existence of mental illness stigma has been well established, but stigma theory must go beyond demonstrations and mere descriptions. This article addresses which characteristics across mental disorders lead to stigmatization and social rejection. Participants ( N = 270) read case histories depicting individuals with 40 mental disorders, rated those individuals on 17 dimensions (e.g., dangerousness to others, treatability, social disruptiveness), and indicated how willing they were to reject these individuals on a social distance scale. This yielded a ranking of mental disorders by degree of stigmatization; most importantly it reveals the structure of mental illness stigmatization. Only three dimensions were essential in accounting for rejection: personal responsibility for the illness, dangerousness , and rarity of the illness. These dimensions provide an efficient and effective account of the causes of social rejection in mental illness (Multiple– R of .78, p < .0001). http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology Guilford Press

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