Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 90 Issue 3 (September 2017), Pages 245-509

Experienced stigma and its impacts in psychosis: The role of social rank and external shame (pages 419-431)

Objectives

Experienced stigma is detrimental to those who experience psychosis and can cause emotional distress and hinder recovery. This study aimed to explore the relationship between experienced stigma with emotional distress and recovery in people with psychosis. It explored the role of external shame and social rank as mediators in these relationships.

Design

A cross‐sectional design was implemented.

Methods

Fifty‐two service users were administered a battery of questionnaires examining experienced stigma, external shame, social rank, personal recovery, positive symptoms, depression, and anxiety. Correlation and multiple regression analysis were conducted on the data. Where appropriate, mediation analysis was employed to explore social rank and external shame as mediatory variables.

Results

Experienced stigma was significantly related to shame (social rank and external shame), positive symptoms, emotional distress (depression and anxiety), and personal recovery. The impact of experienced stigma on depression was mediated by external shame. Social rank was a mediator between experienced stigma and personal recovery only.

Conclusion

People with psychosis who have experienced stigma are likely to experience emotional distress and be inhibited in their recovery. This was found to be partly mediated by external shame and low social rank. Clinical approaches to stigma need to target these as potential maintenance factors.

Practitioner points

  • Experienced stigma is significantly related to shame (social rank and external shame) emotional distress, and reduced personal recovery.
  • External shame mediated the relationship between experienced stigma and depression in psychosis. Social rank mediated the relationship between experienced stigma and personal recovery.
  • Clinical approaches to stigma should include the assessment of external shame and low social rank.

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