Examining a progressive model of self-stigma and its impact on people with serious mental illness

Patrick W. Corrigan*, Jennifer Drothy Rafacz, Nicolas Rüsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

301 Scopus citations


The self-esteem of some people with serious psychiatric disorders may be hurt by internalizing stereotypes about mental illness. A progressive model of self-stigma yields four stages leading to diminished self-esteem and hope: being aware of associated stereotypes, agreeing with them, applying the stereotypes to one's self, and suffering lower self-esteem. We expect to find associations between proximal stages - awareness and agreement - to be greater than between more distal stages: awareness and harm. The model was tested on 85 people with schizophrenia or other serious mental illnesses who completed measures representing the four stages of self-stigma, another independently-developed instrument representing self-stigma, proxies of harm (lowered self-esteem and hopelessness), and depression. These measures were also repeated at 6-month follow-up. Results were mixed but some evidence supported the progressive nature of self-stigma. Most importantly, separate stages of the progressive model were significantly associated with lowered self-esteem and hope. Implications of the model for stigma change are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-343
Number of pages5
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 30 2011


  • Hope
  • Self-Stigma of Mental Illness Scale
  • Self-stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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