The nature of stigma and medical conditions

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Stigma is society’s negative evaluation of particular features or behavior. Cultural beliefs that define certain conditions negatively may create tainted and discounted identities for affected individuals and their families. Varied dimensions of stigmatized medical conditions include the nature of an illness, its history, and attributed characteristics; sources of the creation and perpetuation of stigma; the nature of the populations who are perceived to carry the illness; the kinds of treatments and practitioners sought for the condition; and how individuals with stigmatized medical conditions cope with societal insults that endanger their personal identity, social life, and economic opportunities. Individuals with stigmatized medical conditions, including epilepsy, may benefit from support groups that can help enhance their confidence. By focusing on the social and political resources and recourses available to them, such individuals can make substantial strides toward gaining their freedom from stigma.

© 2002 Elsevier Science (USA)

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2002

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