Sociologist Goffman introduces the labeling theory in which he describes how labeling or branding individuals or groups, lead to adverse consequences. He defines stigmas as the processes in which the reaction of others spoils the normal identity of the targeted person(s). Stigma can also be defined as the discrepancy between the actual and virtual identity that causes us to alter estimations of individuals downward. Goffman states that society has a way if grouping people into social categories, each with a set of typical attributes. Goffman emphasizes on how different people have different responses to the stigmas. There are individuals who attempt to correct the objective behavior or trait. For example, in 1963 homosexuality was an issue where homosexuals went to psychotherapy. Some people devote private effort to mastering the things they “can’t do” do their stigma. Others use the stigma as an excuse for their failures and some see the suffering as a blessing in disguise. Goffman splits stigma into two types, discredited and discreditable. Discredited stigmas are stigmas that are obvious, they are inevitably seen, such as disabilities. Discreditable stigmas are those that are not so obvious in face to face interactions such as mental illness. The mentally ill is a constantly stigmatized group. People with schizophrenia, depression, bi polar disorder are called crazy, nuts, and retards. When we say things like this we are perpetuating the stigma and we allow the mental illness to completely define the individuals identity. We unconsciously and consciously stigmatize individuals all the time, it’s a matter of awareness and understanding that everyone is different, and that being different isn’t a negative thing.


5 responses to “Stigmas

  1. Some people devote private effort to mastering the things they “can’t do” due to their stigma *** typo, sorry.

  2. I really like what you wrote. I agree with you and I think that although there are certain people who do purposely say nasty things, there are others who say negative things without realizing how hurtful it is. These individuals hear a word being thrown around at home, in a TV show, on the street, and suddenly that word, for example the word “retarded,” becomes a normal word to use when talking about someone who is mentally disabled. These individuals will then start using negative words like these without realizing that they can really negatively affect and hurt individuals who are mentally disabled. I am sensitive to this topic because my brother has special needs and it really bothers me when people throw around words like “retarded” and “weird” when talking about disabled individuals, whether it be physically or mentally disabled. My brother is the most special and awesome person in my life and I think it is important for people to realize that though someone may be “different” according to societal norms, that individual is still a human being and deserves to be treated as such.

  3. I meant to reply here, I’m not sure what happened.
    Im glad you can relate and I’m sure your brother probably thinks you’re the most special and awesome person he knows. As corny as I might sound I feel like disabled individuals each have a certain gift. I think it’s all about awareness and understanding, most people aren’t fully knowledgable of mental or physical disabilities and don’t understand that they’re people just like you and me.

  4. caribprincess188

    It is pretty ironic how Goffman’s theor not only plays in society then, but the way(s) people are being stigmatized in society today by the police, the so call people who are supposed to be protecting your rights, not using them against you…!

  5. I really enjoyed reading this. I completely agree with you also. I feel like many people though say hurtful things without noticing it too. Also, I totally agree with caribprincess188 with the police. If the police are suppose to be protecting you, then why does society tend to fear a police officer? It just shows how police brutality and stigma relate perfectly.

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