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News for the ‘Stigma’ Category

Different Thinking

I personally hate the term ‘mental illness’. The term itself promotes stigma by implying there is something ‘wrong’ with the person. Instead, I will use the terms ‘different thinking’ and ‘different thinker’ instead. I am not even sure I like the term ‘different thinking’ because it still sets people apart from one other. Since I need some term, and I find different thinking to be much less objectionable than mental illness, I will use that from now on, on this blog.

Conditions like borderline personality disorder (bpd) and bipolar disorder (bp) involve thinking differently than others. It is not the different thinking itself that causes the problems, it is when the different thinking manifests itself in harmful and destructive ways that trouble arise.

Our ability to think differently is itself an advantage. It allows us to see things in ways that others do not. It allows us to create new things and solve problems in unique ways. It also lends itself to enhanced creativity. If everyone thought the same way, where would the world be today? It is when people think in unique and different ways that new inventions and new discoveries are made. It is people who think differently than everyone else that advance society, not the people who think like everyone else.

For example, people such as Marilyn Monroe and Princess Di are both suspected as having had bpd. While others such as Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ludwig von Beethoven and Winston Churchill are all confirmed or suspected of having bp. These are just a few historic people that were different thinkers.

A study conducted by Duke University found that as many as 49% of United States presidents, between 1776 and 1974 were different thinkers. There is a long list of famous contemporary different thinkers as well. Included in this list is Dr. Marsha Linehan who developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to treat patients with bpd and National Football League (NFL) Wide-receiver Brandon Marshall, both of whom are diagnosed with bpd.

Unfortunately, society still discriminates, stigmatizes and harasses people that are different. The stigma associated with bpd is so severe that is hard to find a list of famous people with bpd; however, with it affecting about 2% of the population, and the fact that different thinking is prevalent in both genders, all nationalities and economic classes, you can rest assured that they are out there.

The combined contributions these people made to, and in the case of contemporary different thinkers continue to make to the world is remarkable. They have changed the world, where would we be without Sir Isaac Newton’s contributions to mathematics and physics? Where would we be without the contributions of Charles Darwin to evolution or Ludwig von Beethoven to music?

It is not although they were different thinkers that these people made and continue to make such large contributions to society. It is because of the fact that they are different thinkers. If all these different thinkers were able to have the success and make such profound contributions to the world, then any one of us can as well. The trick is learning how to control the more destructive parts of different thinking and learning how to use the positive aspects of it.

Edited: August 3rd, 2012

And These Are NOT Monsters

Before you this you should read my article These are Monsters…. The two articles go together and makes more sense when both are read.

The earlier article provided a few examples of and a description of what a monster is. Now, I will explain what a monster is not.

Most things I the world are not monsters, the end of this article will offer a short list of a few things that are not monsters. Since this site is about mental health, I will focus on the fact that:

People who have mental illnesses are not monsters.

We are people, just like everyone else. We laugh, we cry, we bleed, we eat, we sleep, we have relationships, we love, we hurt and we do everything else you do. Sometimes, it is hard for us to do the things you take for granted. It is not always easy to get out of bed in the mornings, sometimes it takes everything we have to do just that one thing that is so trivial for you.

We want the same things you do, happiness, success, family and friends.

Unlike the monsters you make us out to be, we do not eat humans, we do not drain a person’s life force, and we do not drink people’s blood to survive.

We do not have fangs, claws and we cannot change our shape. We are not made of black ooze or smoke. We do not posses people.

You do not need magic to bind or summon us. A rope binds us just fine and a phone call does a great job in summoning us. You do not need any special rituals or special weapons to kill us, the same things that kill you would kill us.

Dousing us with Holy Water will not hurt us, but it will make us look at in a weird way. Performing an exorcism on us will also get you a strange look, but it will not cause us any pain.

Here is a partial list of other things that are not monsters:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Birds
  • People from other countries
  • People of a different religion
  • Atheists
  • Liberals
  • Conservatives
  • People who have a different skin color
  • People of the opposite gender
  • Poor people
  • Middle income people
  • Rich people
  • Homosexuals
  • Heterosexuals
  • Bisexuals
  • Transgenders
  • and on and on

Just to refresh your memory, here is a partial list of things that ARE monsters:

  • Wendigos
  • Vampires
  • Ghosts
  • Ghouls
  • Zombies
  • Werewolves
  • Demons
  • Shtriga
  • Rougarou
  • Buruburu
  • Rawhead/Bloody Bones
  • Rakshasa
  • Acheri

Edited: June 13th, 2012

These are Monsters…

It seems that a great deal of confusion exists amongst the ‘normals’ in the world when it comes to knowing what a monster is, so I have put together this handy little explanation to help you explain out to them. You may want to carry it with you. This is the first of two parts on These are Monsters and We Are Not Monsters.

Here are a few examples of monsters:



The Wendigo is part of the traditional belief systems of various Algonquian-speaking tribes in the northern United States and Canada, most notably the Ojibwe and Saulteaux, the Cree, the Naskapi and the Innu people. Though descriptions varied somewhat, common to all these cultures was the conception of Wendigos as malevolent, cannibalistic, supernatural beings (manitous) of great spiritual power. They were strongly associated with the Winter, the North, and coldness, as well as with famine and starvation.

At the same time, Wendigos were embodiments of gluttony, greed, and excess: never satisfied after killing and consuming one person, they were constantly searching for new victims. In some traditions, humans who became overpowered by greed could turn into Wendigos; the Wendigo myth thus served as a method of encouraging cooperation and moderation.



ShtrigaThe Shtriga (ultimately from the Roman strix; compare also Romanian strigã and Slavic strzyga), in Albanian folklore, was a vampiric witch that would suck the blood of infants at night while they slept, and would then turn into a flying insect (traditionally a moth, fly or bee). Only the shtriga herself could cure those she had drained (often by spitting in their mouths), and those who were not cured inevitably sickened and died.

In the beliefs of people of Ancient Rome, these are evil female creatures. They manifest as birds with female faces that would steal small children left unattended. They were a type of vampire and also used as a very evil Nursery bogie to control the behavior of children. This word now denotes a witch in modern Italian folklore.




A Rakshasa or alternatively rakshas, is a race of mythological humanoid beings or unrighteous spirit in Hindu and Buddhist religion. Rakshasas are also called man-eaters (“Nri-chakshas,” “Kravyads”). A female Rakshasa is called a Rakshasi, and a female Rakshasa in human form is a Manushya-Rakshasi. Often Asura and Rakshasa are interchangeably used.
According to the Ramayana, Rakshasas were created from Brahma’s foot; other sources claim they are descended from Pulastya, or from Khasa, or from Nirriti and Nirrita. Hinduism maintains that the Rakshasas were particularly wicked humans in previous incarnations.[citation needed] Rakshasas are notorious for disturbing sacrifices, desecrating graves, harassing priests, possessing human beings, and so on. Their fingernails are venomous, and they feed on human flesh and spoiled food. They are shapechangers, illusionists, and magicians.



In Indian mythology, an Acheri is the ghost or spirit of a little girl who comes down from mountains and hilltops at night to bring sickness to humans, particularly children. The only defense against an Acheri was thought to be a red ribbon tied around one’s neck. The Acheri is said to bring death to the elderly or other people with low immune system defences.


And here are a few more examples of monsters:

Edited: June 11th, 2012

Stigma and the Individual

Stigma is many things. It is wrong. It is hurtful. It is cruel. It is unethical. It is amoral. It is counterproductive. It is plain stupid. It is bigoted. And at its worst, it is deadly.

This is a difficult topic for me to write about without getting worked up. At this point in our evolution as a species there is no room and no excuse for stigma in the world. Even though there is still a lot we need to learn, we know too much these days to excuse stigma.

Recent studies have shown that over half of Americans will show signs of mental health problems within their lifetime, with a third of Americans reporting them within the previous twelve month period. If you ask me, that is a very serious problem and it affects a lot of people.

Mental health problems, including mental illnesses, range in severity and impact. Even in the most severe cases, the person affected is not a bad person. They are just like everyone else, a person who wants to live a happy life, free of pain and suffering.

Stigma prevents these people, people like me, from being able to achieve this goal. It takes this fundamental human right away from us. It drives us to hide our problems. It leaves us suffering in silence and suffering alone.

How does it do these things?

It does these things, and much more, by intimidation. It stops us from saying anything, lest we get shunned. We keep quiet because we do not want to be alienated from everyone else. We do not want people to abandon us because we are not “normal”. We fear getting that look of disgust from people when they find out.

Society, through stigma, teaches us we should be embarrassed because of our challenges. It teaches us that we are weak because we cannot ‘get over it’ or because we are “so dramatic all the  time”. It teaches us we are defective. It teaches us we are “bad people”.

The things that stigma teaches us are all lies. We are good, kind and living people. We want the same things as everyone else. We have as much right to things like happiness and love as anyone else.

To repeat what I said at the start of this article, stigma is many things. It is wrong. It is hurtful. It is cruel. It is unethical. It is amoral. It is counterproductive. It is plain stupid. It is bigoted. And at its worst, it is deadly.

Edited: May 30th, 2012

Stigma and Society – Family and Friends

Stigma is dangerous. It is cruel. It is amoral. It needs to stop. Stigma does not benefit anyone.

In earlier articles I have talked about the impact of stigma on the person and the economic damage it can cause. In this article I will outline the harm it can cause to the family and friends of a person with a mental illness.

People with mental illnesses never suffer alone. When they suffer it affects those around them. I know this first hand. I have seen the impact my suffering has had on those around me, both my family and my friends. I also have family, loved ones and friends with mental illnesses, so I know first hand the impact another person’s mental health problems have on others.

When you stigmatize someone, you drive them to hide their problems. You drive them to ‘cope’ on their own. They try to do this because no one wants to be treated like they are lepers. No one wants to be shunned.

Have you ever been around a family member or a friend that had just lost a loved one? Do you remember what it felt like trying to comfort them, but not being able to take away their pain? Do you remember how much it hurt you not being able to do more for them? Do you remember what it felt like feeling helpless and powerless to ‘make it all better’? Do you remember how the feeling got worse with each day that went by and your hands were still tied? Now, remember the day that the person ‘turned the corner’ and started feeling better and how much it helped how you felt.

Now imagine what that must feel like if that sense of hopelessness never went away. Imagine what it must feel like to have that sense of hopelessness turn into frustration or a sense of failure. Imagine what that does to a person and how much that person suffers along with the person who has the mental health problems.

It tears them apart. It can lead to problems within the family. It can lead to broken homes. It strains relationships. Stigma is dangerous. It is cruel. It is amoral. It needs to stop. Stigma does not benefit anyone.

Friends and families do not get the help they need to learn how to cope with and support their loved ones who are suffering. They are afraid or ashamed to admit that someone close to them has a mental illness because they too are afraid of the stigma. They do not want to be looked down on because someone on their family isn’t “normal”.

These kind of problems could be drastically reduced if we just put an end to stigma. Stigma can tear apart families and communities.


Edited: May 9th, 2012

Stigma and Society – Economic Impacts

We know that stigma negatively affects those of us with mental illnesses. There is no doubt or question about that at all, and I will talk about that more in a different article. But the effects of stigma have a more far-reaching negative impact, as they also negatively impacts society as a whole.

One of the impacts of stigma is that people who suffer do not get the help they need because of how society might treat them. So these people suffer silently, hiding their challenges, pretending that nothing is wrong, and all too often not even getting diagnosed.

So how does this affect society as a whole?

When people are untreated, they have to try to deal with things on their own. Often times these people tend to “deal” and “cope” with things in destructive manners because they do not know what is going on or how to cope in a safe and productive way. These destructive ways can take a lot of forms, ranging from substance abuse (both liquor and drugs), violent outbursts and actions, self-harm, and reckless actions to name just a few.

All of these behaviors limit a person’s ability to take part in society in a productive way. They reduce the person’s productivity at work. They lead to an increase in days missed from work. This in turn can lead to increased stress on the members of the team. This in turn leads to increased risk of illnesses of the body. Around and around she goes.

All this can lead to missed deadlines, delayed projects, and cost overrun. This means that companies either need to raise prices or risk lower revenue. Lower revenue leads to reductions in the work force, which means more people struggling to make ends meet. This leads to an increase in the number of people who will suffer from depression. Once again, around and around she goes.

This of course is an over simplification of things, but I think it illustrates a very real concern. Stigma is not only damaging to the people it targets, but it is damaging to society as a whole

Edited: May 9th, 2012


Let me start by saying: I really dislike the phrase ‘mental illness’. It automatically paints a negative image of the person diagnosed. It feeds a stigma that society desperately needs to put behind us.

Stigma is defined as “a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.”

A stigma is a mark of disgrace or infamy, a stain or reproach.

Take a minute to let that sink in; a stigma is a mark of disgrace. Therefore, to stigmatize a group or a person is to disgrace them. In most cases the only ‘crime’ these people have committed is being ‘different.’

Why do stigmas exist now, especially, with all the knowledge at our fingertips? Unfortunately, how society treats those that are different has not changed much since the earliest days of humanity.

Despite all the intellectual advances, we have made as a group; we have not overcome the fear of things and people that are not like us. Currently we still seem to find it easier to see and hate what is different from to see and embrace what is the same in each other.


“Stigma.” Random House Dictionary. 2011,. Dictionary.com. Web 25 July 2011. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/stigma)

Edited: July 25th, 2011


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