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Psychiatry Res. 2004 Dec 30;129(3):257-65.

Internalized stigma predicts erosion of morale among psychiatric outpatients.

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Department of Psychiatry (116A), University of California and the San Francisco VA Medical Center, 4150 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA.


Stigma in society causes harm to people with severe mental illness (SMI) and internalized stigma represents its psychological point of impact. We evaluated the extent of internalized stigma in a sample of outpatients with SMI, using the Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness (ISMI) Scale, developed with consumer input. About a third of the sample reported high levels of internalized stigma. We tested whether internalized stigma predicted increased depressive symptoms and reduced self-esteem at 4-month follow-up, controlling for baseline levels. Depression was predicted by Alienation, Stereotype Endorsement, Social Withdrawal Scales and total ISMI score. Reduced self-esteem was predicted by Alienation. ISMI results were stronger than those for the widely used Devaluation-Discrimination Scale. The finding that alienation further reduces morale speaks to the difficulty of pulling oneself out of this type of vicious cycle without assistance.

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