The Origin of Stigmas

stigma originStigmas appear in numerous areas of life. A stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace on something, be it a person, a quality or a circumstance. If a collective mentality forms around something and labels it as disgraceful, people will do their best to sweep it under the rug. This may include a mental disorder, a break from social norms, a type of job or any number of things that people do. The stigma around mental unhealthiness extends to counseling and inspires many people to hide their need for counseling from the world. The formation of stigmas is a uniquely human thing to do and represents a weakness in our psychology.

The inherently unnatural thing about forming stigmas is, of course, that the things that become stigmatized are a natural, unavoidable part of life. There have always been mentally unhealthy people. There has always been a defiance of social norms. What the collective opinion considers ideal is seldom met, yet people will go to great lengths to conceal the fact that their lives are less than ideal, or that they are in some way associated with someone who is less than ideal. The choice to do this is ultimately unhealthy for the person choosing it because it creates secretiveness, dishonesty and a rejection of one’s own identity.

The reason that stigmas do not benefit people is because the flaws in people, conditions and circumstances that become rejected are completely natural and should have a place among society. Individuals who embody a stigma become widely rejected, which is highly detrimental. Society tends to want to throw out what it considers flawed, which is a natural human tendency, but a lesser one. The healthiest kind of society would go to the aid of those who embody a stigma and offer them support. People who embody stigmas are our friends, family members, neighbors and acquaintances. We do no benefit to anyone by holding stigmas over them and avoiding them. This is an exclusive way of thinking that hurts society far more than it helps it.

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