This is a reblog from the blog of the Menninger Clinic, and the complete post can be found here – the below is just a taster!
“I deliberately chose a tendentious title for this essay – misleadingly metaphorical rather than literal – to highlight, as one of my recent posts outlines, my alarm stemming from reading research on stigma.
With many others, I had assumed that treating psychiatric disorders as “a disease like any other” (i.e., like any other general medical condition) would ameliorate stigma. This biological perspective reflects a longstanding trend away from moralizing toward medicalizing mental illness – in Karl Menninger’s words, transforming “sin” into “sickness.”
Research on attitudes toward mental illness
In believing that we would thereby ameliorate stigma, we were wrong. My previous post was inspired by Erlend Kvaale and colleagues’ synthesis of extensive research that yielded surprising findings. Although construing mental illnesses as brain disorders decreases blame of the mentally ill person, it does not reduce stigma (i.e., social distancing). Moreover, this reframing can be harmful: It increases pessimism about prognosis, and it also risks increasing perceived dangerousness.”