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Healing Stigma and its Effects

Two Self-study Workbooks for Helping Professionals

Pam has long been concerned about the destructive effects of social stigma on our willingness and ability to seek, find, and accept the help we need.  She thinks of stigma as a process that:
  • Begins with our tendency to fear our natural human limitation, and to defend ourselves from it by disapproving of and marginalizing people we perceive as "different" or "more limited"
  • Includes all the forms of disapproval and discrimination that we direct toward the people we stigmatize
  • Often leads to self-stigma and shame among those who have been stigmatized, making problems worse and making it harder to seek, find, and accept help
  • Promotes the social isolation that further decreases our chance of finding and accepting the help and support we need
You might have noticed that both the "stigmatizers" and the "stigmatized" are referred to as "we."  This is because most of us are both.  We have limitations that are often stigmatized, and we have been raised to stigmatize others and/or ourselves.