Deinstitutionalization, social rejection, and the self-esteem of former mental patients

Eric R. Wright, William P. Gronfein, Timothy J. Owens

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    279 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Modified labeling theorists have long argued that the stigma of mental illness has important consequences for the lives of people with mental illness. We propose that social rejection is an enduring force in the lives of people with mental illness and that these experiences are central to understanding the poor self-concepts described by many former psychiatric patients. We explore changes in a cohort of recently deinstitutionalized mental patients' (N = 88) self-esteem and experiences with social rejection using data from a three wave panel survey conducted while institutionalized and over a two-year period following the patients' discharge from a long-term state hospital. Our results indicate that social rejection is a persistent source of social stress for the discharged patients. Moreover, these experiences increase feelings of self-deprecation that, in turn, weaken their sense of mastery. Where the patients' received their follow-up care - whether in a community setting or in another state hospital - had little impact on their self-related feelings or on their experiences of social rejection. Our results provide further support for modified labeling theory and underscore the need to consider the dynamic relationship between stigmatizing experiences and self-related changes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)68-90
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Health and Social Behavior
    Volume41
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 2000

    Fingerprint

    Deinstitutionalization
    Social Distance
    Mentally Ill Persons
    Self Concept
    State Hospitals
    Emotions
    Aftercare
    Patient Discharge
    Psychiatry

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Social Psychology

    Cite this

    Deinstitutionalization, social rejection, and the self-esteem of former mental patients. / Wright, Eric R.; Gronfein, William P.; Owens, Timothy J.

    In: Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 41, No. 1, 03.2000, p. 68-90.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Wright, Eric R. ; Gronfein, William P. ; Owens, Timothy J. / Deinstitutionalization, social rejection, and the self-esteem of former mental patients. In: Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 2000 ; Vol. 41, No. 1. pp. 68-90.
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