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Stigma, a Routine Factor in Discrimination

The following is an excerpt from about stigma.

   /ˈstɪgmə/ Show Spelled[stig-muh] Show IPA
noun, plural stig·ma·ta  /ˈstɪgmətə, stɪgˈmɑtə, -ˈmætə/ Show Spelled[stig-muh-tuh, stig-mah-tuh, -mat-uh] Show IPA, stig·mas.
a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.
Medicine/Medical .
a.a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease: the stigmata of leprosy.
b.a place or point on the skin that bleeds during certain mental states, as in hysteria.
3.Zoology .
a.a small mark, spot, or pore on an animal or organ.
b.the eyespot of a protozoan. entrance into the respiratory system of insects.
4.Botany . the part of a pistil that receives the pollen.
5.stigmata, marks resembling the wounds of the crucified body of Christ, said to be supernaturally impressed on the bodies of certain persons, especially nuns, tertiaries, and monastics.

1580–90; < Latin < Greek stígma tattoo mark, equivalent to stig- (stem of stízein to tattoo) + -ma noun suffix denoting result of action; see stick2

1. blot, blemish, tarnish.

World English Dictionary
stigma (ˈstɪɡmə) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]

— n , pl ( for sense 7 ) stigmas , stigmata
1. a distinguishing mark of social disgrace: the stigma of having been in prison
2. a small scar or mark such as a birthmark
3. pathol
a. any mark on the skin, such as one characteristic of a specific disease
b. any sign of a mental deficiency or emotional upset
4. botany the receptive surface of a carpel, where deposited pollen germinates
5. zoology
a. a pigmented eyespot in some protozoans and other invertebrates
b. the spiracle of an insect
6. archaic a mark branded on the skin
7. ( plural ) Christianity marks resembling the wounds of the crucified Christ, believed to appear on the bodies of certain individuals

[C16: via Latin from Greek: brand, from stizein to tattoo]

The part to note is this…

a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.

However, another noted definition is this…

a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease: the stigmata of leprosy.

Now, why, oh, why am I showing so much information on this word, this word, stigma? Because this word represents a strong force that is deleterous to everyone, not just those with mental health or substance abuse issues, not just those with disabilities of all types, not just minority racial groups, or even other associations of groups who are characterized as “different from the norm.”

Stigma is a force that seeks to marginalize individuals, and it can be turned against anyone because anyone at any time can be judged to be deficient. It doesn’t even have to be deficiency that leads to this, it only might be perceived deficits. This is purely subjective. This goes from your people living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as adults all the way down to your children on the playground with Asperger’s and ADHD. It doesn’t even require a disability as previously stated, it just could be because someone sees that you are different than they are and perceives this difference as negative.

What are the effects of stigma? The potential effects include exclusion from opportunities such as school, housing, employment and even parental rights (such as in mine and my husband’s case). This discrimination can lead to an uneven quality of life between those who are not experiencing stigma and harsh judgment and those who are.

Stigma is a very serious topic to those in the mental health system as in many other areas of disability rights. I have the desire to work with social opinion at some point in life to open doorways and help people wade through the cesspool of this injustice. Lots of people say there will never be a day free from stigma for people who have mental health disabilities. Without much extra thought, I pray daily for this outcome, and like to be optimistic that the world can someday become a place for peace and open mindedness.


About theworldofwilma

I'm a mom, a wife, a daughter, a niece, a cousin, a patient, a friend, a woman, a client, a parent, a vegetarian, a believer, an environmentalist and probably much more. . . but mostly I'm just me, quirky, silly ol' nonsensical Wilma, and I wouldn't have it any other way. In addition, I am just recently new in the world of self published, self illustrated children's literature. Please see some pictures from my first work. I invite all interest and dialogue from illustration artists, authors, publishers, marketers, writers of all kinds, parents, or anyone interested in the printed word for young readers. I am just starting out and want to learn all I can.

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