Stigmatized medical conditions are not the same as being the "different". Stigmatizing conditions can occur for many reasons, including genetic disorders (genetic conditions can cause physical disorders as well), emotional factors (such as abuse and depression), and a lack of information (there is no current consensus on the best treatments for many illnesses). Stigmatizing medical conditions are often misdiagnosed as not being serious enough for medical attention.
Stigma is also associated with socialization. If the condition or disease causing the impairment is severely stigmatized, the chances of receiving compensation for the disability and limiting the services available are greatly reduced. There are some stigmatized conditions that are more commonly stigmatized: AIDS, leprosy, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, and skin infections. Below is a list of 10 more stigmatized conditions:
A person's self-esteem is based on how well a person perceives their ability to perform certain tasks
If a person believes that he / she cannot do something, or that he / she does not have the skills or ability to do something, then this may indicate a stigmatized condition of the person. Some examples of such tasks are inability to speak; cannot walk; inability to write; or have difficulty eating. A person with HIV or AIDS may be stigmatized for fear of being diagnosed with HIV. For fear of being diagnosed with HIV, many people with HIV may have been misdiagnosed and treated unfairly.
Alcoholism is another highly stigmatized disease. It can be difficult to realize that alcoholism is a problem in a person's life when the problem is only related to alcohol use.
People with mental illness are often stigmatized due to the stigma associated with mental illness. People with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may have had misdiagnosed mental illness or be stigmatized because they were once institutionalized.
A person's stigma can also be associated with a disability. When a person suffers from a severe physical disorder, such as a broken limb or spinal cord, they may feel unable to perform certain tasks and may be stigmatized as a result. Many people with disabilities can find it difficult to live their lives despite their disability, due to poverty or limited access to resources.
The stigma associated with being gay is often very strong, but it depends on the sexual orientation of the person. In some cases, gay men may be socially stigmatized in workplaces due to fear that they are attracted to women who have other sexual orientations. In other cases, gay men may have a stigma because of the fear of being "outed" or of losing jobs. Even those who are not actively gay or who are straight may be socially stigmatized because of the fear of not being accepted by society.
Some people may be stigmatized because of their appearance. Some people who are overweight have a higher chance of being labeled with a condition that is often not even real-life-threatening. People who have undergone plastic surgery or have had medical interventions may suffer from this type of stigmatization. Sometimes, people with a physical defect or are afflicted with diseases may have a stigma because of the belief that they are sick, disabled, or weak.
People who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness may also be stigmatized. Those with terminal diseases or who have experienced an unsuccessful surgery may have a higher risk of developing a stigma that includes being labeled as weak, incompetent, or useless. People with a disease may also face a stigma because of the idea that they must suffer in silence while other people live a more active and fulfilled life.
Certain people may be stigmatized based on the age of the person. For instance, a child with Down Syndrome may face a stigma because some people may associate a disability with childhood or children. While there are people who believe that people with disabilities are somehow defective or less intelligent, there are many who believe that disabled individuals are also capable of a lot of success.
Stigma can come from all areas of our lives. It is important for each individual to identify their own particular fears and experiences and think about how they may have been stigmatized and what steps they may need to take to reduce their fears.