Shunned: Discrimination against People with Mental Illness

Shunned: Discrimination against People with Mental Illness

Shunned: Discrimination against People with Mental Illness

People with mental illness commonly describe the stigma and discrimination they face as being worse than their main condition. Discrimination can pervade every part of their daily life – their personal life, working life, sense of citizenship, their ability to maintain even a basic standard of living. Though things have certainly improved in the past 50 years, discrimination against the mentally ill is still a major problem throughout the world. It can manifest itself in subtle ways, such as the terminology used to describe the person or their illness, or in more obvious ways – by the way the mentally ill might be treated and deprived of basic human rights. Should we just accept such discrimination as deeply rooted and resistant to change, or is this something that we can collectively change if we understand and commit ourselves to tackling the problem? Shunned presents clearly for a wide readership information about the nature and severity of discrimination against people with mental illness and what can be done to reduce this. The book features many quotations from people with mental illness showing how this has affected their home, personal, social, and working life. After showing, both from personal accounts and from a thorough review of the literature, the nature of discrimination, the book sets out a clear manifesto for change. Written by a leading figure in mental health in a lively and accessible manner, the book presents a fascinating and humane portrayal of the problem of stigma and discrimination, and shows how we can work to reduce it.

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1 Comment so far »

  1. Mr. James W. Wooldridge "James Wooldridge" said,

    Wrote on May 6, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

    3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A review of Shunned, June 1, 2007
    This review is from: Shunned: Discrimination against People with Mental Illness (Paperback)

    From the impact of the title to the graphic display of discrimination by the families pictured on the back cover, the reader is left in no doubt as to the content of this impressively researched and eminently readable book.

    `The stigma and discrimination faced by those with mental illness is often worse than the condition itself.’

    This is a phrase many are aware of but rarely has it been investigated in such a clear, concise and professional manner.

    The author has drawn heavily upon real experiences by people across the world and has compared attitudes and behaviours that exist in differing environments and cultures.

    It is these hard-won experiences by those at the receiving end that justify this book and in the first few chapters we are presented with overwhelming evidence that stigma and discrimination has a detrimental affect on virtually every aspect of life. It even adversely affects the reason for the discrimination in the first place, the individual’s mental wellbeing.

    No part of life is left unexplored for evidence of discrimination and somewhat unsurprisingly, it is found that it exists in many forms and on many levels. Even in the form of self-stigmatisation which can be a major barrier to recovery.

    Although all forms of mental illness are discussed, schizophrenia is observed with particular interest as much of the available research surrounding discrimination and severe mental illness centres upon this diagnosis. The reader is left in no doubt that people with schizophrenia are vilified by society to such an extent that it borders upon shameful. The back cover picture testifies to this and several of the illustrations throughout the book, including cage beds still being used in the Czech Republic, make one realise how dehumanising this treatment can be.

    So from where do these discriminating attitudes and behaviours originate? Well the media certainly plays its part and the influence it has should not be underestimated. A chapter is dedicated to this subject alone and even our children’s cartoons contain many references to negative aspects of mental illness.

    However, rather than leaving the reader reeling from the shocking statistical evidence, the book’s last two chapters deal with interventions to challenge discrimination both on the individual’s part and on the wider part of society. The end message therefore is one of hope and it’s the words of Emile that finish the book;

    `At the end of the day, I am still a person. I hold down a good job. I go out. I have a family. It’s just an illness.’

    Well put!

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