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Erasing Stigma Is Much More Than Changing Words
Patrick W. Corrigan, Psy.D.
Psychiatric Services 2014; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201400113
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Dr. Corrigan is with the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago (e-mail: corrigan@iit.edu).

Copyright © 2014 by the American Psychiatric Association

Abstract

Some opinion leaders and mental health experts have called for replacing diagnostic terms such as schizophrenia with words that are less stigmatizing and that more clearly reflect recovery. Although the author notes that such efforts are laudable, he describes three concerns in regard to diagnostic relabeling. It gives the task of changing stigma to mental health professionals rather than anchoring it among people with lived experience. Proponents of diagnostic relabeling misunderstand the enduring force of prejudice and discrimination. The focus on relabeling makes stigma change look easy, which undermines the stigma change agenda. The author points to lessons that can be learned from other efforts to promote civil rights.

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