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Destigmatising mental illness?Professional politics and public education in Britain, 1870-1970$
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Vicky Long

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719085819

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719085819.001.0001

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Psychiatrists and Their Patients:

Psychiatrists and Their Patients:

Mirrored Narratives of Sanity and Madness

(p.25) 1 Psychiatrists and Their Patients
Destigmatising mental illness?

Vicky Long

Manchester University Press

This chapter examines the efforts made by psychiatrists and patients to address the public and challenge the stigma attached to mental illness and its treatment. Analysing a selection of accounts authored by psychiatrists and patients, it considers how the shared world of the asylum and mutual experiences of discrimination created parallels in their narratives. Erving Goffman’s analysis of stigma is drawn upon to consider the difficulties facing former patients who sought to challenge the stigma of mental illness, and to shed light on writers’ strategies, which changed as treatment regimes evolved over time. Many former patients sought to reintegrate themselves into the community by distancing themselves from the ‘otherness’ of mental illness. The chapter argues that the frequently adversarial nature of the relationship between psychiatrists and patients hindered collaborative efforts to tackle the stigma attached to mental illness and its treatment. Furthermore, psychiatrists’ preconceptions regarding the public inhibited their efforts to engage in meaningful dialogue.

Keywords:   Patients, Psychiatrists, Asylum, Mental illness, Narratives, Stigma, Goffman, Public

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