Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 55 Issue 2 (June 1982), Pages 109-201

Psychiatric patient denial of mental illness as a normal process (pages 109-118)

The self‐perceptions of 50 first‐admission psychiatric patients are compared with their perceptions of the mentally ill and psychiatric staff's views of the typical patient. The results show that the patients share the psychiatric stereotype of the mentally ill but do not characterize themselves in terms of this stereotype. On the other hand they do view themselves as being much more like the mentally ill than usual. Two common perspectives on patient denial of mental illness, the sociological and the medical/clinical, are examined with respect to their ability to accommodate these results and it is concluded that a third perspective on patient denial of mental illness is required. This perspective views patient denial of mental illness as a normal process dependent on two mechanisms: rational rejection of self‐stereotype identity and minor self‐deception resulting from egocentric biases which play an important integrative role within the personality.

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