Implicit self-stigma in people with mental illness

Nicolas Rüsch*, Patrick W. Corrigan, Andrew R. Todd, Galen V. Bodenhausen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


People with mental illness often internalize negative stereotypes, resulting in self-stigma and low self-esteem ("People with mental illness are bad and therefore I am bad, too"). Despite strong evidence for self-stigma's negative impact as assessed by self-report measures, it is unclear whether self-stigma operates in an automatic, implicit manner, potentially outside conscious awareness and control. We therefore assessed (i) negative implicit attitudes toward mental illness and (ii) low implicit self-esteem using 2 Brief Implicit Association Tests in 85 people with mental illness. Implicit self-stigma was operationalized as the product of both implicit measures. Explicit self-stigma and quality of life were assessed by self-report. Greater implicit and explicit self-stigma independently predicted lower quality of life after controlling for depressive symptoms, diagnosis, and demographic variables. Our results suggest that implicit self-stigma is a measurable construct and is associated with negative outcomes. Attempts to reduce self-stigma should take implicit processes into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-153
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010


  • Attitudes
  • Implicit Association Test
  • Implicit cognition
  • Quality of life
  • Self-esteem
  • Self-stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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