CHOICES II-9 - Impediments to Acceptance
Acceptance of one's mental illness is generally thought to be the starting point for one's Journey of Recovery. Once begun, there are three major milestones along the road to recovery, each to be achieved in turn. These are: 1) Functionality, 2) Wellness, and 3) Fulfillment.
Incident to discussing how one gets to the starting point (Acceptance) of their Journey of Recovery, in previous blogs we have discussed a wide range of topics, including: 1) anosognosia, and 2) Passive, Active, and Deliberate Ignorance. We've even looked at a hypothetical hiring decision from the employer's perspective, and have raised some questions concerning the use of peer counselors.
If you're interested I reading any of these early blogs you will find the first blog in the series at - www.healthcentral.com/schizophrenia/c/100/44549/ii-0-starting.
If you've examined our early discussions, you'll find that they all, in one way or another, involve stigma, which we all realize can be a serious Impediment to Acceptance. There are three additional sources of stigma that I want to discuss before moving further along in our series called CHOICES II. These are family, provider and consumer stigma. We will discuss each of these in future blogs.
Many mental healthcare professionals do not believe in provider stigma. This form of stigma is insidious and, perhaps, the most damaging. Most providers are outraged at the suggestion. On the other hand, most consumers can cite one or more incidents of such stigma in which they have been involved.
There is an analogous story involving racial discrimination that is instructive.
In a criminal trial in which racial discrimination was likely to affect the outcome, each potential juror was rigorously questioned about whether they or anyone in their family had any inclinations toward racial discrimination. One potential juror vigorously denied any history of racial discrimination, pointing out that while on the farm her father had provided shelter to stranded travelers, blacks and whites alike. The attorney' for the defense asked where visitors slept. She replied that they slept in the guest room. The attorney then asked where the African Americans slept. The woman's answer was long in coming. With sudden recognition on her face and tears in her eyes, she eventually managed to say that they slept in the barn.
I have the greatest admiration for mental healthcare providers who do enormous good and are never paid enough. Yet widespread stigma among providers that produces damaging discrimination is as widespread as it is subtle.
Provider stigma usually involves lowered expectations for their patients. They believe, rightly or wrongly, that their individual patients rarely recover from schizophrenia and therefore little can be expected of them. Consumers look to their providers for guidance and the subtle under tow their provider's lowered expectations can have a devastating effect on their patients' prognoses.
My psychiatrist never told me there was anything that I would be unable to do because of my illness. I didn't find out about "my limitations" until I took a class in abnormal psychology in my junior year in college. When "my limitations" were called to my attention, laughing and crying at the same time, I threw the book into the trash.
* * *
Please remember, this writing reflects my own experience and opinions. If you, or a loved one, are experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, you should seek professional assistance.