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Stigma - A Definition of Stigma


Updated June 30, 2009


Stigma is a perceived negative attribute that causes someone to devalue or think less of the whole person. People tend to distance themselves from individuals in stigmatized groups, to blame individuals in these groups for the perceived negative attributes, and to discriminate against and diminish the stigmatized individuals.

For example, stigma is often an issue that arises in mental health. Many individuals with mental health difficulties are perceived as weak, inhuman, or “less than” because of their psychological symptoms. Of the major mental illnesses, individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are perhaps among the most stigmatized.

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