Oh G-d, A Borderline: Clinical Diagnostics As Fundamental Attribution Error Page: 11
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diagnostic terms that are stigmatizing (Miller & Rollnick, 2002). Identifying the extent to which
stigmatization occurs from therapist to client is the first step to understanding its overall
potentially deleterious effect.
Stigma in Mental Healthcare
It is possible, though presently under-documented, that clinicians who view their clients
as broken and without a capacity for change may adversely affect the outcome of treatment.
Indeed, Wills (1978) posits that negative perceptions of clients, unrelated to diagnosis, adversely
affect the quality of the therapeutic alliance and subsequently the likelihood of positive change
resulting from therapy. In society at large there does exist a substantial level of stigma both about
seeking mental health services and towards particular diagnoses (Stier & Hinshaw, 2007; Vogel
& Wade, 2009). Stigma towards mental illness at the community level can also lead to
discrimination and prejudice (Overton & Medina, 2008) and has been found to be insidious to an
individual's well-being above and beyond the effects of the "illness" itself (Stier & Hinshaw,
2007). Although it is clear that stigmatization of an individual seeking mental health services is
problematic, it is under investigated whether or not clinicians actively, though perhaps
unintentionally, stigmatize their clients and as a result adversely affect the outcomes of therapy.
We do know that mental health workers are less stigmatizing of hypothetical clients than
are undergraduate students (Ledet, 2010), a feat perhaps lacking profundity. It would seem that
as with the general public, education about mental health and disorders does not do away with
stigmatizing attitudes by professionals (Vogel & Wade, 2009). In defining stigma in the context
of mental healthcare, Stier and Hinshaw (2007) specifically indicate that it centers in part on the
disorder label itself. A study involving lay participants found that people are likely to stigmatize
individuals labeled mentally ill even when they exhibited no aberrant behavior (Link, 1987).
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Schmalz, Jonathan. Oh G-d, A Borderline: Clinical Diagnostics As Fundamental Attribution Error, thesis, December 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103389/m1/17/: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .