Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Stigma, self-concept and stigma resistance among individuals with mental illness
by Bonfine, Natalie, Ph.D., Kent State University, 2013, 195; 3618919
Abstract (Summary)

Theory suggests and research provides evidence that stigma can have a negative impact on the self-concept for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. Labeling theory and modified labeling theory suggest that individuals who are labeled with a socially undesirable status (e.g. mental illness) may develop negative cognitions, self-perceptions and emotions as a result of the associated stigma. However, some evidence suggests that the harmful effects of stigma on self-concept may not have as strong or an enduring of an impact as labeling theories might predict. In this dissertation, I utilize longitudinal survey data of 221 individuals with mental illness to consider the role of empowerment and defensive responses that individuals use to resist the potentially negative effects of stigma. Specifically, I examine defensive strategies, such as secrecy and social withdrawal, and empowerment-oriented responses to stigma, including community activism and righteous anger, as factors that may moderate the effect of stigma on self-concept. I found limited support of the negative effect that perceived stigma has on self-concept. While I did find some evidence that stigma is negatively associated with both self-esteem and mastery, these associations were only of modest strength. There was no finding suggesting that the stigma response items moderate the relationship between stigma and self-concept, but mediating relationships are present. Further research is needed in order to better understand how stigma resistance strategies influence the varying effects of the stigma of mental illness on self-concept.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ritter, Christian
School: Kent State University
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Clinical psychology, Individual & family studies, Social structure
Keywords: Mental illness, Self-concept, Stigma
Publication Number: 3618919
ISBN: 978-1-303-87474-1
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