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.
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