mental health, internalized stigma, alienation
Alienation is a component of internalized stigma (Ritscher & Phelan, 2004; Ritscher, Otilingham, & Grajales, 2003). Research indicates high alienation predicts elevations in depression symptoms and is positively correlated with anxiety and psychiatric symptom severity (Boyd, Hayward, Bassett, & Hoff, 2016; Ociskova, Prasko, Kamaradova, Grambal, &Sigmundova, 2015; Ritscher & Phelan, 2004). Emerging accounts of human language and cognition assert that higher-cognitive functioning is composed of relational acts essential to the understanding of human psychology and perspective taking. For example, the way information is phrased appears to affect individuals' relations with that same information (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche, 2001). Extant research suggests noun label usage, implying a person is their disorder, is related to higher levels of stigma about others with mental illness relative to possessive label usage, implying a person is separate from their disorder (Goodyear et al., 2008; Howell et al., 2014; Kelly & Westerhoff, 2010). To date, this relationship has not been examined in the self. Our study examined the relation of noun- versus possessive-based self-identification and internalized stigma in individuals with depression or anxiety symptomology. We hypothesized individuals who identified with possessive labels would report lower levels of internalized stigma relative to those who identified with noun labels. College students (N=40; Female=35, Mage=19.72, Range=18-29) completed an online survey that included measures of self, mental illness labeling, anxiety and depression symptom severity, and internalized stigma. Results indicated individuals with elevated depression symptomology who identified with noun labels reported significantly higher internalized alienation relative to those who identified with possessive labels, F(1,12)=6.32, p=.029. Individuals with anxiety symptomology who identified with noun labels reported significantly lower internalized alienation relative to individuals who identified with possessive labels, F(1,35)=4.35. p=.045. The effect of self-perceptual language on self-stigmatizing feelings of social alienation and implications for the provision of behavioral therapies will be discussed.
Stroman, Joel; Bock, Rachel; Albrecht, Kendyll; Kalantar, Emily; and Baker, Lucas, "I am vs. I have: The Relation of Self-Identified Mental Health Labels and Internalized Stigma" (2020). IdeaFest. 1.