Stigma 1

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The Stigma of Long Term Illness – Physical Illness: 

The Stigma of Long Term Illness – Physical Illness Gil Justin Torres University At Buffalo


Definitions “Long-term or chronic illness refers to a disorder with a protracted course which can be progressive and fatal, or associated with a relatively normal life span despite impaired physical or mental functioning (Matson, 1972).” Stigma is any persistent trait of an individual or group which evokes negative or punitive responses.


Examples Pulmonary Tuberculosis Cystic Fibrosis HIV/AIDS Muscular dystrophy Hemophilia Diabetes Mellitus Physical injuries with permanent handicaps Seizures

Causes of Stigma: 

Causes of Stigma Ignorance. Fear of the unknown or the different. Disabled are viewed as defective. Negative media portrayal.

Media View Of The Physically Disabled: 

Media View Of The Physically Disabled Images of disabled persons in American literature are seen as demonic. victim. or survivor cripples. Example: Captain Hook Stereotypical ways disabled persons are portrayed in the media as dangerous individuals. although the stereotype is false, it has served to justify treatment of the disabled, such that they are more often the recipients of violence than its perpetuators. These stereotypes are so prevalent that youth culture tries to emulate walking with a limp to represent a tough façade.

Common concerns in long term physical illness patients: 

Common concerns in long term physical illness patients Mounting medical expenses Interference of his or her illness with: schooling leisure activities vocational training job opportunities later adult role as a spouse and a parent.

Coping Strategies and Adaptations: 

Coping Strategies and Adaptations “Coping behavior, then, includes the use of cognitive functions ( perception, memory, speech, judgment, reality testing), motor activity, emotional expression, and psychological defenses. (Defenses represent unconscious processes aiming at reappraisals and distortions of a threatening reality to make it more bearable (Matson, 1972).” Deviance Disavowal is a “strategy which paradoxically involves the recognition, rather than the denial, of disabling conditions. Recognition, however, is made in such a way as to prevent disability from becoming central or disruptive (Goffman, 1963).” Patients who have long term illnesses cope using the statement “This illness is not all of me.”


Discussion: What can we. as nurses. do in order to facilitate the proper adjustment into normal societal life of patients who are suffering a long term physical illness? How can we manipulate the social views towards the physically disabled and ill patients?