Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Laura Desportes

Degree Award Date

Spring 2006


Mental Illness, Stigma, stereotype, literature review


Health Communication | Mental Disorders | Psychiatry and Psychology


Roughly 20 percent of the population of the United States will have suffered from a mental illness during the span of their life. This means that mental illness plays a major role in American society. Unfortunately, the media and society in general do not have a realistic perception of the mental illnesses and of those who suffer from them. The media's portrayal of the mentally ill is one of violent maniacs, who have no control over their actions and wish only to do harm to others. This representation is one that is not supported by research and has naturalized a stereotype across society, which needs to be rectified. The following paper provides a literature review on the effect of stigma on mental illness as well as a secondary data analysis of the 1996 General Social Survey data.