The Science of Stigma – THE WAY YOU ARE!! – PART 2

Priming is the implicit memory effect in which exposure to a stimulus impacts the response to a later stimulus. It can be considered as a form of conditioning as it can be used to train a person’s mind in both positive and negative ways. We will talk about how this relates to Mental Health and Stigma later in the post.

There are several different types of Priming but I have chosen to look at Supraliminal Priming, which describes the instances where people are aware of the environmental cue, but are not aware of the influence on them. I made this decision because it leads best to my chosen topic of identity.

When people stigmatise against mental health, they are giving patients a label that is fabricated. The labeller has no idea what is on the label, in terms of a patients characteristics, beyond what they interpret as their condition. Furthermore, mental illness leads us to question who we are, as our character morphs from one pole to the other throughout the phases of illness and recovery. In essence, both the misconceptions about mental illness, and the illness itself, can prime sufferers to live with a false identity.

It is imperative that people who suffer from the stigma of having a mental health condition have a clear understanding of who they are; i.e. are aware of the impact that supraliminal priming (via stigma), and their condition, has on their authentic traits as a human being.

I know that I am a friendly, positive, loving and caring person. I know that my true fulfilment lies in making other people feel loved and special. By channelling my energy towards these traits/objectives I become a more complete version of me and therefore tackle stigma (and life’s other hurdles) head on. Don’t let anybody else use your condition to shape THE WAY YOU ARE!!

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