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Blog #4 Goffman and the Spoiled Identity

Blog #4 Goffman and the Spoiled Identity

Goffman defines Stigma as “.. a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity” The Greeks originated the word Stigma to signify and identify those who were criminals and slaves by bodily evidence such as cuts and burns. In today’s society Stigma is used in a a very different context. It is used to disgrace an individual or type of population based upon labeling and stereotyping. Using these labels and stigmatizing an individual or population spoils the identity of the individual causing a “spoiled identity”. It makes them feel lesser than normal, when that is not the case. When interaction occurs between a stigmatized (SI) individual and a “normal” individual there is anxiety and self consciousness that occurs.

A great example of a population that has acquired a spoiled identity seen in todays society are those who suffer from Mental Illness. Those who suffer from mental illness are often categorized and labeled as crazy. They are seen as different and as outsiders to the world around them.

To label and to stigmatize is unfair and not right. Those who do stigmatize sometimes don’t understand that they are doing so due to their social norms and how they were taught to perceive others. We must be open minded and become more careful not to judge others right away.

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6 responses to “Blog #4 Goffman and the Spoiled Identity

  1. I feel the same way. People who have mental illnesses should not be looked at any different than you and I. They once lived a “normal” life than the life they live now. Now they are looked down upon and some people feel like they are intimidated by them. If we try to hear them out and stop treating them like animals maybe our society would be different.

  2. I completely agree, if we were more open about mental illness and non judgmental , maybe more people would get help without feeling lesser than normal. I work at a mental health facility and deal with people that suffer from mental illness, I don’t look at them different nor do I judge them.

  3. I definitely agree with you on this point. People with mental illness are no different then any other person. It’s not like they had the choice to have a mental illness because if they did obviously they wouldn’t want it. Instead of making these people feel worse, others should help then to make them feel more like a normal person. Instead of feeling lesser then a normal human being.

  4. I feel people naturally stigmatize others who are different from themselves. It falls in with the Labeling Theory which is basically how someone is characterized as being deviant since they are different from what people would consider to be normal. I agree that we need to be more open about topics such as mental health and disabilities. The fact that it is rarely talked about shows that it is definitely stigmatized. With more exposure to different types of people from all walks of life, others can be more educated and they won’t be as quick to judge (hopefully).

  5. jjgayle92, I definitely agree with you that people judge others and stigmatize others that are different from them, this takes place not only with people that have mental illness and disabilities, but with ethnic groups as well. Many times we do it ourselves without realizing and we should pay much more attention to this.

  6. I agree, it’s very important to keep in mind the negative effects of stigmas in our society. Just because an individual is suffering from some sort of mental illness, they aren’t and shouldn’t be treated as less of a human for it. We should attempt to be more considerate and act far less on assumptions and stereotypes that perpetuate these stigmas.

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