Stigma and the pathologization of normal

Mental Health @ Home

Health spelled out in tabletsPadrinan on Pixabay

Mental illness stigma comes from many places and in many forms.  Stigma often invalidates the experience of those of us with mental illness, and one of the ways this can happen is through pathologizing normalcy.  By this I mean inflating the significance of “normal” emotions and minimizing the significance of mental illness to make it seems as though they’re on par with each other.  Some of this comes from the language we use.  “Anxiety” and “depression” are often used to describe “normal” human emotions, but the same words are also used to describe psychiatric disorders.  This distinction is not always apparent to people with limited knowledge about mental illness, which is where misinterpretations come in.  People may think that because they feel “anxious” or “depressed” emotionally and those feelings are uncomfortable, then they likely have a mental health disorder.  Conversely, people with an anxiety disorder or…

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