The Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy VIII: Embracing Shame and Guilt—Unraveling the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness
The Mark of Shame
Mental illness is rampant, yet people rarely talk about it. One internationally known psychologist, Dr. Stephen P. Hinshaw (2019), has written extensively about the broad subject of mental illness and openly shares his unique personal narrative regarding how he and his family have been affected. Dr. Hinshaw maintains that narratives play a key role in our overall understanding of the human mind, and in fact “humanizes” us. Because we guide and shape meaning to life and experiences through the creation of a personal narrative, writing or telling our story can even be beneficial to our health.
In Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness, Dr. Hinshaw writes about how people today continue to have negative emotional reactions to individuals with mental illness. He indicates that each year probably ¼ of the world’s population is affected by moderate to severe forms of mental illness. Maybe if we all took part in telling our unique life narratives, this number would diminish. In his own rich narrative, Dr. Hinshaw relates that his father had a mental condition called bipolar disorder. He writes about how his father’s condition affected his family, recounting how members of his family never talked about it with others. Medical Doctors even told his father not to tell his children—thereby shrouding his family with layers of family secrets. His Father experienced a string of misdiagnoses and misunderstandings about the disorder. This occurred everywhere he turned, even in medical community. Hinshaw notes that even today, we tend to neglect or punish those who have mental issues—instead of treating them with kindness, compassion, and empathy.