Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness: More than a scale.

I am a mental illness and help-seeking stigma researcher and yet, somehow, I have severe internalized stigma of mental illness as measured by the 9-item short form of the Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness Scale (ISMI-9). I began studying mental illness and help-seeking stigma because I witnessed it. I continued studying it, more passionately, because I experienced it. But nothing could have prepared me to learn that I had internalized the stigma of mental illness to that degree. It led me to contemplate the process by which I had done so, and I concluded that it was not by believing some disembodied stereotypes about people with mental illness, it was a result of instance after instance of negative treatment due to my severe mental illness. In this first-person narrative, I describe several significant examples of such in my life, tying them back to the process of developing severe internalized stigma of mental illness. I offer this first-person narrative not out of some grandiose notion that I am special, but rather for the specific reason that I doubt I am the only one. In this work, I hope to give ear to an underrepresented voice in stigma research–the voice of those who are suffering. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)