Severity and gendered mental disorders: does perceived illness severity influence gendered stereotypes of mental health stigma?
Master of Arts
DisciplinePsychology : Clinical
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Compounding the already difficult nature of mental illness is the stigma attached to it, and mental illness is highly stigmatized. Social scientists have begun to explore and find evidence that stereotypes are not always unitary constructs, but they interact and influence one another. Boysen (2017a; 2017b) and Boysen and colleagues (2014) have found evidence for “gendered mental disorders”, the relation between gender stereotypes, mental disorder, and stigma, and have found clear evidence for the existence of gendered stereotypes for mental disorders: stereotypically “masculine” disorders elicit more stigma than stereotypically “feminine” disorders. Perceived severity of the illness may also play a role and may interact with gendered stereotypes. The current study supported previous findings that men are more stigmatized than women and that men with masculine stereotyped mental health disorders (i.e. gambling disorder) are significantly more stigmatized than men with feminine stereotyped mental health disorders (i.e. bulimia nervosa) or women. Severity proved to be a significant factor in predicting stigma, however, it was not found to be the only factor associated with increased stigma towards certain disorders. Differences in stigma towards different disorders appear to be influenced by interactions between target sex, disorder gender, and perceptions of severity.
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