Positive Approaches Journal | 6-7
In 1963, Erving Goffman described stigma as referring to “an attribute that is deeply discrediting” which serves to reduce an individual “from a whole person to a tainted, discounted one.” Though much has changed in the description and understanding of stigma in the 60 years that have followed, the underlying idea that stigma has a deep and devaluing effect on an individual persists.
Much of the early work examining stigma and its effects has been focused on the field of mental health. In more recent decades, increased attention has been paid to the role of stigma in the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism. This recognition has gone hand in hand with the increasing emphasis of person-centered approaches and the fundamental pursuit of Everyday Lives.
This issue of the Positive Approaches Journal is dedicated to a scholarly exploration of stigma through many points of view. Ranging from a broad vantage point of mental health stigma across ethnic minorities to a case study highlighting the impact on individual with stigma in recognized and address, our authors share their experience and expertise on this most important topic. Though quite diverse in background and focus, the contributors here all share in the recognition of the importance of lived experience when characterizing stigma, acknowledging the depth of impact, and designing support and treatment opportunities. A less-often discussed but tremendously important topic, self-stigma is addressed in this issue as well.
It is likely that in another 60 years from now, stigma will remain a topic of great societal importance. It seems, however, equally likely that with continued effort to recognize and address the presence and impact of the role of stigma in our own lives and the lives of others, great gains in creating a more accepting and welcoming world are achievable.
The editorial board of the Positive Approaches Journal looks forward to your feedback.
Gregory Cherpes MD,
Office of Developmental Programs
ReferencesE. Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity, (1963)