- Stigmatizers, as a rule, are unlikely to seek education venues;
- Education alone cannot change centuries of folklore and prejudice;
- Education must be accompanied by challenges to media misrepresentations, discrimination in the workplace and abusive treatment by law enforcement not trained in mental illness (killing someone in the midst of a schizophrenic episode, for example)
Fear of the Mentally Ill is Based on Stereotypes
- The difference between a “normal” and a stigmatized person is a matter of perspective, not reality;
- Stereotypes are about selective perceptions that place people in categories, exaggerating differences between groups (all schizophrenics are violent, for instance);
- Stereotypes make people easier to dismiss, and in so doing, the stigmatizer maintains social distance;
- The media perpetuate stigma giving the public narrowly focused stories based around stereotypes (the school massacres in the U.S. in recent years are immediately blamed on the psychiatric history of the gunman, if any..
- The “villains” in television shows and movies are often psychopaths (Glenn Close’s character Alexandra “Alex” in “Fatal Attraction,” Hannibal Lector portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in “Silence of the Lambs,” and then there’s the new television series “Black Box” that portrays mental illness as some sort of superpower.
On a positive note, the media will be the means of any campaign that aims to challenge and replace the stereotypes. More characters on current television shows such as “Homeland.” Once a taboo topic, mental illness is becoming an increasingly prominent plot line on television series.