Stigma, stereotyping and judgemental perception

Isn’t this what it’s all about?   A confusion of experiences, judgements, attitudes learned within families and in friendship groups, and the creation of stereotypes?

From such a stew it can be difficult to identify that main ingredient in our behaviour which is seen by others as stigmatising them.    But we might admit to what is sometimes seen as a lesser offence, stereotyping.

People experiencing difficulties with their mental health are not the only ones to suffer stigma in their communities.   But they may feel that they are.   And some will say that they haven’t experienced stigma because, maybe, they haven’t, and maybe because it is less painful not to ‘hear and see’ it in relation to themselves.   Everyone needs to find some way of coping with socially painful situations, and not to ‘see or hear’ is one way of achieving this.   Some children who are bullied, perhaps in PE lessons and sports activities, will justify to themselves and others why they were not selected.   Probably because of some mythical skill of the last child to be picked – the one just before them.   And as they stand alone waiting for the teacher to order them into an unwelcoming team; a loneliness full of embarrassment and zero self esteem, they have to find a way of continuing – and that may be by temporarily convincing themselves of the greater skills of their peers, and avoiding  the obvious group derision at their situation.    But are these children being stigmatised by their ‘friends’ or are their ‘friends’, as a qualified social worker said to me, just exercising their right to chose their team?   An interesting concept for a social worker, justifying children exercising their rights resulting in pain and humiliation to others.   Seems to be room for some discussions about social responsibilities here.  But then social workers over recent years have been stigmatised and stereotyped too.   Maybe this is the way some of them don’t ‘hear and see’, and interestingly several have spoken to me about the bullying they receive from managers in their departments.   So, if they stay, then how are they dealing with that?   Maybe that’s about exercising responsibility in relation to yourself?

So who else experiences stigma?   Well, just about everybody really!   Police, teachers, social workers, psychiatrists, hoodies, vicars and priests, immigrants, teenagers, LGBT people, class ‘swots’, white van drivers, asylum seekers, benefit claimants, and me.

Or is it really stereotyping?    Does stigma as an actual happening really exist?        


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