August 06, 2005

Schizophrenia Stigma Gives Physical Reaction

It is a well known fact that those with schizophrenia can sometimes be marked with a negative stigma by those around them. This is partially due to most of the exposure to schizophrenia coming from movies, TV shows, and the news. These are usually areas that portray those with schizophrenia in a negative light and therefore reinforces the stigma that people put upon those with schizophrenia.

Apparently this stigma elicits a negative physiological reaction in those who carry a stigma against those suffering from schizophrenia. 35 students participated in those study, they were all between the ages of 18 and 28, and most of the students were African American (except for two). The measuring scales used were the Social Distance Scale, and the Subjective Units of Discomfort Scale (SUDS). Subjects were shown pictures of people who were either labeled as "schizophrenic" or not via the biography that came with the picture. While reading the biographies and looking at the pictures they were monitored with a brow electromyogram, palmer skin conductance, and their heart rate activity was recorded.

Participants reported elevated SUDS (Subjective Units of Discomfort Scale) ratings and also had more brow muscle tension when looking at the images of people who supposedly had schizophrenia compared to those who were mentally healthy.

"Furthermore, psychophysiological reactivity to labeled and unlabeled imagery was able to predict global self-reported attitudes of stigma towards people described as having schizophrenia" Researchers suggested that 'This suggests a possible mechanism by which increased contact reduces stigma; via a dampening of negative affect and arousal. Future research should more closely examine whether changes in psychophysiological reactivity correspond to changes in amount and degree of contact with persons with schizophrenia'" (PsychiatryMatters.MD, 2005).

This study was published in Schizophrenia Research 2005; 76: 317-327.

Original Source: Schizophrenia stigma causes physical reaction. PsychiatryMatters.MD. 2005.


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