PMID: 10950361Aug 19, 2000

How stigmatising is schizophrenia in India?

The International Journal of Social Psychiatry
R Thara, T N Srinivasan


Stigma is a social devaluation of a person because of personal attribute leading to an experience of sense of shame, disgrace and social isolation. The nature of stigma in schizophrenia and its relationship to attribution was studied in one hundred and fifty-nine urban patients of Madras, India who fulfilled DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia. The response of the primary care givers to fourteen questions on stigma and 14 on what they thought attributed to the illness was elicited. Based on the mean stigma score, the entire sample was divided into two groups- those with high and low stigma. Marriage, fear of rejection by neighbour, and the need to hide the fact from others were some of the more stigmatising aspects. Many care givers reported feelings of depression and sorrow. Discriminant function analysis showed that female sex of the patient and a younger age of both patient and caregiver were related to higher stigma. Among attribution items, having no explanation to offer, and attributions to faulty biological functioning, character of life style, substance abuse and intimate interpersonal relationship discriminated between the two groups. The relevance of stigma in the cultural context is described.


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