Internalized stigma in schizophrenia: relations with dysfunctional attitudes, symptoms, and quality of life

Stephanie G Park, Melanie E Bennett, Shannon M Couture, Jack J Blanchard
Psychiatry Research 2013 January 30, 205 (1-2): 43-7
Internalized stigma refers to the process by which individuals with mental illness apply negative stereotypes to themselves, expect to be rejected by others, and feel alienated from society. Though internalized stigma has been hypothesized to be associated with maladaptive cognitions and expectations of failure, this relationship with dysfunctional attitudes has not been fully examined. In the present study, 49 individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder completed the Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness Scale (ISMI; Ritsher et al., 2003) in addition to measures tapping defeatist performance beliefs, beliefs regarding low likelihood of success and limited resources, negative symptoms, depression, and quality of life. Consistent with prior research, internalized stigma was correlated with depression and quality of life but not with negative symptoms. Further, internalized stigma was correlated with both measures of dysfunctional attitudes. After controlling for depressive symptomatology, the relationship between internalized stigma and beliefs regarding low likelihood of success and limited resources remained significant, and though the correlation between defeatist performance beliefs and internalized stigma was no longer significant, it was of a similar magnitude. Overall, these data suggest that dysfunctional attitudes play a role in internalized stigma in individuals with schizophrenia, indicating a possible point of intervention.

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