The Invisible Struggle: Understanding the Stigma of Mental Illness and its Roots
This research project was conducted to investigate the historical causes of a prominent modern issue: the stigma against mental illness. The project draws on information from a combination of books written by experts and historical documents. Examining views on mental illness as far back as prehistoric times, this project concludes that the stigma was partly due to the common belief in possession as the cause of mental illness. It was also found that institutionalization of the ill caused a decrease in their visibility and also contributed to this stigma. Finally, the designation of the mentally ill as "other" and subhuman had lasting effects on the way we see those struggling with mental illness today. This project promotes an understanding of the past as a way to shed these beliefs and work toward dismantling stigma in the future.