Oh G-d, A Borderline: Clinical Diagnostics As Fundamental Attribution Error Page: 12
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The scarcity of research on the issue of therapist-to-client stigma may have to do with the
stigma of stigmatization among professionals; it is much easier to study those we work with than
it is to scrutinize ourselves. Among mental health professionals there does exist a stigma about
each others' own problems (Kottsieper, 2009). Many mental health professionals do not feel free
to discuss their own psychological struggles or share with their coworkers and superiors that they
seek counseling. It would seem that the societal reach of stigma does not stop at the doors of
professionals' offices or the walls of the ivory tower. Therefore, more thoroughgoing
investigations of what situations and clients are likely to occasion therapist stigma- a matter to
be undertaken in this study- and to what extent the presence of stigma does indeed negatively
impact therapeutic outcomes is warranted.
Corrigan (2000) specifically calls for research into the effect of labeling in mental illness
stigma using an attribution theory approach. Attribution theory broadly indicates that people
ascribe the causes of a person's behavior to the underlying dispositions of that person (Heider,
1958; Jones & Davis, 1966; Kelley & Michela, 1980) with a marked insensitivity towards the
control exerted by contextual factors. Furthermore, the extent to which a behavior is thought to
be under a person's own control or influenced by external factors significantly affects whether
dispositional or situational attributions, respectively, will be made. Boysen and Vogel (2008) did
find partial support for the role of attribution theory in people's stigmatizing responses towards
Schizophrenia versus addiction; people tend to be more stigmatizing of addictions than
Schizophrenia because the former is considered more within one's control than the latter.
Disorders that are thought to be caused by a person's behavior (e.g., AIDS, child abuse) are more
highly stigmatized than those that are thought to have biological causes (e.g., Alzheimers,
blindness), due to attribution processes (Dijker & Koomen, 2003; Weiner, Perry & Magnusson,
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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/m1/18/: accessed March 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .