The Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy VIII: Embracing Shame and Guilt—Unraveling the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

The Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy VIII: Embracing Shame and Guilt—Unraveling the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

Christy Lewis, Psy.D, LCSW-S. and Kendell Munzer, Psy.D.

The negative stigmas surrounding mental health in humans date back hundreds of centuries. Public stigma, which is the negative reaction of the general population about people with mental issues, is widespread. In turn, this public reaction can cause a self-inflicted stigma. This is a reaction that occurs inside an individual who has the “problem”. This troubled person will turn against themselves, believing that they have a deep and shameful flaw. Feelings of shame and guilt accompany this internal stigmatization. The stigma, in turn, causes and is reinforced by an unfortunate cascade of social stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.

In this essay we address both historical and modern perspectives of mental illness and how societies reject abnormal behavior, supply historical and personal examples of mental illness and stigma. We also provide a philosophical viewpoint about chronic mental illness and health. Finally, we offer a discussion about psychological perspectives and modern advancements in neuroscience. We consider how they enable us to find new ways in which to understand mental illness—in an effort to further destigmatize our beliefs about human abnormalities.


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Lewis And MunzerChristy Lewis holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and has counseled for a combined 17 years in several clinical and medical settings and has offered career/life coaching for an additional 10 years. Christy is also Board Certified in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback through BCIA, the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance organization. Prior to working in private practice settings, Christy worked in Psychiatric and Rehabilitation hospital settings. Additionally, she worked in career transition/outplacement settings helping clients with their career transition needs. Christy Lewis currently works and is the director at her own private practice setting, The Biofeedback, Education, & Training Center, PLLC, where she combines counseling with a variety of training modalities to individuals of all ages who need help with issues ranging from severe emotional turmoil to people who are working on taking their personal growth to a higher level. Specifically, she has extensive experience working with kids, teens, & adults who have anxiety, depression, ADHD, frustration/anger issues, behavioral issues, and pain management.Kendell Munzer was born in Peekskill NY in 1973. In 1997 she earned her Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice from Curry College. In 2002 she earned her M.A in Counseling from Mercy College. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral Degree in Psychology at The Professional School of Psychology. Kendell works as a part time substitute teacher for the Charleston County School District. The majority of this work is spent working with behaviorally challenged students. She also works part time growing a local Kitchen and Bath business she and her husband have recently opened. Kendell has an extensive background as a Behavioral Specialist and has conducted many staff trainings and seminars. Presently she resides in Mt. Pleasant SC with her husband and two children. When Kendell isn’t at work she enjoys, photography, travelling, skiing, and spending quality time with her family.

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