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.