Media Stigma

Superior Essays
The standard formula for an interesting police based drama episode is to have a murderer who is seemingly unstoppable with unknown motives commit heinous crimes. Then, the protagonist police force discover that aforementioned murderer has a mental illness that causes the murderer to perpetrate more crimes. Makes sense doesn’t it? However, this formula contributes to a huge problem: a stigma towards mental illness. Be it calling someone who seems a little off retarded or blaming mental illness for a high-profile mass shooting, stigma exists in nearly every corner of our society. Despite advancements in the field of psychology, stigma has a strong influence on how we interact with others. Stigmatization of mental illness must stop because it …show more content…
However, the media has a tendency to hyperbolize an issue by putting an increased focus on the issue. A notable example include the infamous, non-stop coverage of a recent Ebola outbreak. However, in actuality, only a handful of people in the United States were diagnosed, and that was because they were taking care of those who initially contracted the disease. Because of this excessive news coverage, the problem was blown out of proportion, creating and perpetuating stigma. There is more stigma created towards that issue, especially that of mental illness. Extensive media coverage of acts of violence being attributed to mental illness perpetuates the stigma towards mental illness. However, mentally ill people are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of crime. People with mental illnesses are largely misunderstood, and as a result, they are harmed by stigma. This self-perpetuating stigma has glaring consequences. Stigma prevents individuals from seeking treatment. Those with mental illness would rather confess to a crime than to plead that they are mentally ill, because being labeled with a mental illness is a worse sentence than going to jail (Redlich). However, media is not the only contributor to the problem, caretakers themselves act as barriers to those recovering from mental …show more content…
“Stigma can affect people through mechanisms of direct discrimination, such as a refusal to hire the person, structural discrimination, such as [having] fewer resources for research and treatment, or social psychological processes that involve the stigmatized person’s perceptions (Link).” Based on Link’s research, one can conclude that not only does stigma affect an individual’s interpersonal relationships, but also their intrapersonal conflicts. Because stigma likely results in a person not being hired, the person internalizes feelings of worthlessness, negatively affecting their self-image. Because of these feelings, the individual refuses to do anything because they are already set up for failure, engaging in the cognitive bias of self-fulfilling prophecy. In addition, internalized feelings of worthlessness causes someone to garner a fear of rejection. “It is undoubtedly threatening and personally disheartening to believe that one has developed an illness that others are afraid of” (Link). This study found that individuals who have a fear of rejection demonstrated withdrawal as a coping mechanism, avoiding those who thought of may think of them as lesser for having a mental illness. Members of society are not being productive because of the stigmatization of their mental illness. They are rejecting themselves before being rejected because they have less self-esteem than an individual who does not

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