Cultural Stigmatization of Mental Disorders

We are realizing that mental disorders are much more common than we originally thought they were through studies and the ever broadening access to information that we have. However, despite this awareness we are gaining, there is still a cultural tendency for us to stigmatize mental disorders rather than empathize with them. The reason for this is most likely due to our natural human intolerance. It is easier to blame someone for their shortcomings than it is to be understanding and accepting of them. We are in dire need to come together in support of people with mental disorders so that they can have a greater chance at overcoming them.

It is very typical for people to pass judgment on those with mental disorders. They are impatient with the symptoms of mental disorders so they write them off as character flaws and things the individual should merely know better than to do. This is very counterproductive to remedying the problem of mental disorders. This is a form of shaming people who are mentally ill and creating a stigma around them that makes it much harder for them to believe in their own self worth. Mental disorders are real afflictions and the appropriate response to them is compassion, not judgment.

Stereotyping of people with mental disorders is also an unacceptable way of treating people who are already more heavily burdened than others. When people stereotype individuals who have mental disorders, they reduce them to less than what they are. In psychology, when someone interprets another person to be much less complex than what they actually are, it is called “straw-man theory.” Using this thinking over another person shows a lack of critical thinking on the person’s behalf who is making the assessment, not on the one being assessed.

The appropriate way to approach mental disorders is on an individual basis, allowing for all of the complexities and intricacies that make a person what they are. Mental disorders are a psychological illness and cannot be cured  overnight. They need intensive care over a long period of time to eradicate.

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