Triple Stigma of Forensic Psychiatric Patients: Mental Illness, Race, and Criminal History




Michelle L. West, Philip T. Yanos & Abby L. Mulay

International Journal of Forensic Mental Health

Volume 13, Issue 1, 2014

05 Mar 2014



Stigma involves negative beliefs and devaluations of people in socially identified groups, which some people internalize. Research has increasingly explored mental illness self-stigma, when people with mental illness believe society's negative beliefs are true of them (e.g., they are hopeless due to mental illness). Self-stigma predicts poorer functional and treatment outcomes. Forensic psychiatric patients experience multiple stigmas, yet no research has explored how stigmas due to mental illness, race, and criminal history influence each other. This review discusses relevant stigma research, which suggests that self-stigma in forensic psychiatric populations likely interferes with rehabilitation and avoiding re-arrest. Forensic psychiatric stigma is particularly relevant given increasing social attention on violence, incarceration, mental illness, and race. Conclusions discuss targets for future research.