How Self-Stigma Happens

A look at how mental illness stigma can get internalized

Maddiebunday / CC BY-SA

How self-stigma develops

  1. There is an awareness of public attitudes and the stereotypes that go along with them — aka “I know what they think”
  2. There is an agreement with those public views and stereotypes — aka “I think they’re right”
  3. Those beliefs are applied to the self, and stereotypes are incorporated into the self — aka “I think they’re right about me”
  4. Behaviours are impacted in a harmful way; often, this takes the form: because of [stigmatized belief], I am not [worthy, able], so what’s the point even trying — aka “I’m fucked”
  • the belief that stigma arises from unjust social pressures
  • cultural stereotypes
  • individualist vs. collectivist ideologies
  • attribution of positive and negative events to internal or external factors

Negative effects of self-stigma

Ways to decrease self-stigma

My own experience




Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ashley L. Peterson

Author of 4 books — latest is A Brief History of Stigma | Mental health blogger | Former MH nurse | Living with depression |