I detest the word “stigma.” It makes my skin crawl because no one takes personal responsibility for it. I hate the way it sounds. I hate to even say it.
I prefer calling it the “S” word, but nobody knows what I mean because “stigma” is so ubiquitous and so convenient.
Do you know what it means? Discrimination and Prejudice.
Add two more words to that definition: Fear and Ignorance. Negative Stereotyping. Unnecessary Barriers.
Get the picture?
There is no stigma. Just prejudice and discrimination. When you say the word “stigma” you actually incite “stigma.” Linguistically, it’s an etymological trick, a praeteritio. Nasty stuff.
Let us ban that word and call it by its proper names. Discrimination and Prejudice.
Perhaps then, people will take personal responsibility for their own attitudes and ignorance and fear and prejudices and discrimination. May even attempt to change their attitudes. Learn more. Understand more. Become more empathetic. Compassionate. Kind. Inclusive. Maybe.
But will anyone accept that their attitudes are prejudicial and discriminatory, that they have a problem? Perhaps by changing the language we can begin to change our culture, and our collective conscience? Am I asking too much?
Certainly, we, who live with our psychiatric histories, who internalize our diagnoses, seem to suffer the most as a result of these sick misguided prejudices and discrimination. This irrational fear and ignorance.
“Stigma” isn’t some black cloud, out there in “society.” The word is constantly misused and misunderstood.
Here’s some background on this blighted word…
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