Break the Stigma of Mental Illness
Editorial Credit: Sveta Evglevskaia
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Sleight of hand is generally entertaining: “Keep an eye on my right hand” while I manipulate with my left hand, what I do not want you to note.  Watch as a rabbit appears out of my hat, a bouquet of flowers out of nowhere, or, in politics, as if by magic, an image appears that I want you to see without knowing I designed it to fool.

Fight The Stigma

Stigma is just that. If I can convince you to “fight the stigma” while I am instilling it in your mindI have achieved my goal: You will focus on “the stigma,” not on me deliberately directing it into your consciousness.

It is both a clever and highly successful technique: I tell you there is a stigma, I convince you, and rather than fight me, you fight it. You are tilting at windmills, and I am free to proffer ever more widely the red herring that fools so many. 

A university tells you to say there is a stigma to mental illnesses. One? Far more than one. You carry it on your diploma into the world. A government mirrors the instruction. A health professional. Myriad journalists comply. A president? Indeed more than one US president has done so. Some with the most generous benevolence imaginable. Dare you reject benevolence? 

Do you doubt my success, I, who want to manipulate perception? I who set that red herring upon you? Read, watch, you will see my success in daily headlines, news articles, every imaginable aspect of the media.

Organizations make a very good living, millions of dollars even, and have had for decades “fighting the stigma” while leaving me free to bring others into the practice I promote.

Want to join such an organization? Need a recommendation for which one? There are some very famous ones, all posturing as “educational” while directing the red herring to the public and their own members that it does its work.

Mental Ilness Stigma
Editorial Credit: Triniguy

Mental Illness Stigma

No, I will not name them, just follow the words, “mental illness stigma”: in the media. The words will lead you. Journalists will willingly lead you to them. Proudly and happily the organizations will lead you to themselves. Some of those organizations represent parents, some professionals, some are even led by victims of the red herring themselves.

For those readers who have been led by them, may I offer this post script to my parable:

“Stigma” is a socio-political device whereby one or more aspects of society works to diminish, demean, deprecate, depersonalize, dehumanize, even, one or more other aspects of society, while projecting a prejudice as a “truth”, just as the sleight of hand magician does. 

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Harold A Maio, 83, retired editor, is an advocate whose sole interest is in language, how we use it, how we misuse it, how it directs us and how we can direct it. Harold offers this about himself: Born 1937, raised a 50's boy, lived flower power, matured through marriage, kids, college degrees, conflicts, and happiness. I am a linguistic ethicist, a person who examines language for its moral content. My first choice for a vocation was teaching, art. Ordering chaos in dimension. I taught for many years. My second choice, many years later was German. Hearing for the first time "Die Dreigroschenoper," Brecht/Weill, I cried and wanted to know why. I knew the power of word, without understanding a single syllable. 'Die Liebe dauert oder dauert nicht, an dem oder jenem Ort." I learned German as I learned color. I taught German for many years, university, college, high school, private lessons. The combination of the freedom of art and the discipline of German, the marvelous structure, led me to my final choice, editing, the power of the word. How who says what, and why. From art, I learned variety, endless opportunity, creative inquiry, the mind as eye, not mirror. From German, I learned structure, discipline, and the art of word itself, the power of the word itself. Choice, each and every word a choice one consciously makes or word rules author. "Dichter" rules word. It is no small task. Word can lead to the back of the bus, or beyond. Word can reflect, repeat, repair, renew, alter reality completely. One need only to know the possibility and choose.