Good Example Of Misconceptions Literature Review

Type of paper: Literature Review

Topic: Health, Psychology, Disease, Medicine, Illness, Mental Illness, Aliens, Internet

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/04

Literature Review: Public Awareness of Mental Illness

English 132
The resources chosen for the paper Public Awareness of Mental Illness each have valuable information that will be useful for all subtopics of the paper. That information could include the results of studies done by Corrigan or information about the effects of internet on the mentally ill as discovered by Sher and Vilens. All of the chosen sources have a large amount of facts that can and will be helpful in the future. The facts from the sources will help identify common misconceptions, treatment of mentally ill people (due to the misconceptions), and the effects of this treatment.

Corrigan et al. (2003) tested in their study the effects of different kinds of public stigma on mentally ill people. Public stigma, according to Corrigan et al. (2003), comes in the form of the controllability, attributing responsibility, reacting emotionally and responding discriminately. Through an assessment of two ideas, the attribution hypothesis and the danger appraisal hypothesis, Corrigan et al. (2003) produced notable findings. One of the most widely believed misconceptions, as mentioned by Corrigan et al. (2003), is that the mentally ill are under full control of their illness. That the patient can choose whether they want to control the illness or to let it control them. This belief is only slightly more popular than the belief that the mentally ill are dangerous. The belief that mentally ill people are dangerous implies that mentally ill could become violent to themselves or others, giving the public a reason to fear those with a mental illness.


Firstly, those who believe that mental illness is under the responsible control of the patient have greater likelihood of avoiding or denying help and promote coercive treatment to those who are mentally ill. The same holds for those who think that mentally ill persons are dangerous (Corrigan et al., 2003). Secondly, the longer it is suggested that mentally ill people have control over their condition, the greater the tendency for people to feel anger and fear towards them, as affirmed by the attribution hypothesis (Corrigan et al., 2003). Thirdly, the greater the fear felt by people towards mentally ill people, the greater their tendency is for avoiding and treating them coercively, consistent with the danger appraisal hypothesis.


Interestingly, the more familiar people are with mental illness, the larger their tendency to pity and extend help to mentally ill persons (Corrigan et al., 2003). All in all, the findings established by Corrigan et al. (2003) emphasize that public discrimination affect persons with mental illness through emotional, helping and rejecting responses. However, Corrigan et al. (2003) have specified limitations to their study – the first being that the multiple-group analysis employed did not represent the sample to the whole population. As for the second limitation, claims on discriminatory behavior were reported by the sample and not actually observed (Corrigan et al., 2003).The fact that the study was limited to a sample of schizophrenia sufferers, one that is notorious for dangerousness, means that it may not generate the same results for other mental illnesses, yet such may be conducted in future studies. Furthermore, emergence of new data regarding the biological causes of mental illnesses may inspire the emergence of future studies, given the fact that such may generate different responses (Corrigan et al., 2003).


The findings by Crocker and Major (1989) on the self-esteem of stigmatized groups provide important insights on the discriminatory treatment of mental illness sufferers. Firstly, members take stigma against groups as prejudice. Secondly, members take into account the outcomes of stigma internally, not externally by considering advantaged groups. Lastly, members focus on the positive dimensions of their group, not on the negative ones (Crocker & Major, 1989). Although the same may apply to mental illness sufferers, several dimensions must be emphasized in future studies, namely the effects of different mental illnesses, their capability to withstand stigma and the involvement of organizations protecting them from discriminatory treatment. After all, mental illness sufferers are a group whose main weakness is the state of their mental health – one which, in turn, is largely affected by stigma (Crocker & Major, 1989). Future studies may thus help address such matter.


Whereas it is widely hypothesized that stigmatized groups have low self-esteem, Crocker and Major (1989) presented contrary findings. Link et al. (1999) undertook a study analyzing public conceptions on mental illnesses in terms of causal attributions, dangerousness and establishing social distance. Using data taken from the 1996 General Social Survey, Link et al. (1999) gathered findings that vary based on different kinds of mental illnesses. Schizophrenia and depression, known to arise from biological and genetic anomalies, are mental illnesses that are perceived with less dangerousness, hence decreasing the necessity of social distance. On the other hand, alcohol and drug abuse, caused by excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs, are greatly seen as more dangerous, thus leading to the greater likelihood of imposing social distance (Link et al., 1999). Given the findings, it is important to note that although casual attributions to mental illnesses have increased among the public, the fact that dangerousness and social distance prevails means that much needs to be done to improve the condition of mental illness sufferers.
In a later study, Link et al. (2001) incorporates the concept employed by the earlier study by Crocker and Major (1989) regarding the effect of stigma on the self-esteem of mental illness sufferers. Recognizing the premise that mental illness disables people from withstanding the negative effects of stigma, Link et al. (2001) assessed the self-esteem of 70 mental illness sufferers. Two kinds of stigma were considered –devaluation-discrimination perceptions and rejection leading to social withdrawal (Link et al., 2001). Findings, based on the following controlling variables: baseline self-esteem, symptoms of depression, characteristics due to demography, and diagnosis, provide that mental illness sufferers at the 90th percentile have seven to nine times lower self-esteem compared to those at the 10th percentile (Link et al., 2001). In that case, it is important to take note of the importance of raising the self-esteem of mental illness sufferers, especially those who are suffering from serious kinds of mental illnesses. At the same time, future studies may focus on exploring possibilities on improving the self-esteem of mental illness sufferers.

Understanding and Support

Sher and Vilens (2009) emphasized the significance of the Internet to people who have suicidal tendencies. As a massive portal of information, the Internet is known for its wide-ranging influence on various issues. Topics on mental illness found on the Internet, in particular, may aid mental illness sufferers and other concerned individuals in their need to address their particular issues on the matter. Yet, there is also an understanding that the Internet also contains content that enhance the suicidal tendencies of people (Sher&Vilens, 2009). Suicide groups and content that may encourage suicide are among those inevitably found on the Internet, not least because of the fact that it is a largely unregulated information space that leaves people susceptible to all kinds of knowledge. In that sense, Sher and Vilens (2009) noted that understanding the role of the Internet to suicide prevention must be highlighted to a greater extent. In that way, people with suicidal tendencies may find balance against content from the Internet that may only aggravate their condition. Such is consistent with the premises of Crocker and Major (1989) and Link et al. (2001) on the injurious effects of stigma on mental illness sufferers, in that low self-esteem, which may arise from encouragement of suicide via the Internet, may aggravate their well-being, which in turn may lead them to commit suicide (Sher&Vilens, 2009).
Stull et al. (2013) further expounded on the stigma vis-à-vis mental illness literature by analyzing the extent to which mental health professionals, specifically Assertive Community Treatment staff, utilize implicit and explicit biases in predicting the usage of control mechanisms for treatments. Findings provide that implicit bias lead to the greater usage of clinical interventions that are controlling, in contrast to explicit bias. Such provides the importance of understanding implicit and explicit bias for mental health professionals, as it aids in further raising the positive treatment and reception of mental illness sufferers for protecting their well-being (Stull et al., 2013).


Corrigan, P., Markowitz, F. E., Watson, A., Rowan, D., & Kubiak, M. A. (2003).An attribution model of public discrimination towards persons with mental illness.Journal of Health and Social Behavior,44 (2), 162-179. Retrieved from:
Crocker, J., & Major, B. (1989). Social stigma and self-esteem: The self-protective properties of stigma. Psychological Review, 96 (4), 608-630. Retrieved from:
Link, B. G., Phelan, J. C., Bresnahan, M., Stueve, A., &Pescosolido, B. (1999). Public conceptions of mental illness: Labels, causes, dangerousness, and social distance. American Journal of Public Health, 89 (9), 1328-1333.
Link, B. G., Struening, E. L., Neese-Todd, S., Asmussen, S., & Phelan, J. C. (2001). Stigma as a barrier to recovery: The consequences of stigma for the self-esteem of people with mental illnesses. Psychiatric Services, 52 (12), 1621-1626. Retrieved from:
Sher, L., &Vilens, A. (2009).Internet and suicide. New York City, NY: Nova Science Publishers. Retrieved from:
Stull, L. G., McGrew, J. H., Salyers, M. P., & Ashburn-Nardo, L. (2013). Implicit and explicit stigma of mental illness: attitudes in an evidence-based practice. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 201 (12), 162-179. Retrieved from:

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