On being a girlfriend not a patient: The quest for an acceptable identity amongst people diagnosed with a severe mental illness

Forrester-Jones, Rachel and Barnes, Anna (2008) On being a girlfriend not a patient: The quest for an acceptable identity amongst people diagnosed with a severe mental illness. Journal of Mental Health, 17 (2). pp. 153-172. ISSN 0963-8237. (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09638230701498341

Abstract

Background: Whilst the ways in which mental illness influences personhood have been documented, how social support can forge a more positive identity has not been explored. Aims: Using Goffman's theories of stigma the aim of this paper is to report on a qualitative study of how 17 people diagnosed with a severe mental illness received and provided social support in order to forge and manage a less stigmatizing identity than that of "being sick". Courtesy-stigma as an issue for those trying to live "ordinary" lives is highlighted. Method: Qualitative research methods were used including unstructured open-ended interviews. Results: Individuals reported that social support could be helpful in terms of developing a more "acceptable" identity, which enabled some degree of social integration into mainstream life. On the other hand, people who managed to "escape" from lives defined by their mental health status, sometimes found life on the outside stressful and rejecting. This led to some seeking refuge in the mental health community again. Conclusion: Social support plays a vital role in the construction of a more valuable identity than that of patient.(1) Declaration of interest: The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health sponsored the research.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: mental health; courtesy-stigma
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Tizard
Depositing User: Suzanne Duffy
Date Deposited: 10 May 2010 11:29
Last Modified: 08 May 2014 11:02
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/15081 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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