Paradigms Lost: Fighting Stigma and the Lessons Learned
Paradigms Lost challenges key paradigms currently held about the prevention or reduction of stigma attached to mental illness using evidence and the experience the authors gathered during the many years of their work in this field. Each chapter examines one currently held paradigm and presents reasons why it should be replaced with a new perspective. The book argues for enlightened opportunism (using every opportunity to fight stigma), rather than more time consuming planning, and emphasizes that the best way to approach anti-stigma work is to select targets jointly with those who are most concerned. The most radical change of paradigms concerns the evaluation of outcome for anti-stigma activities. Previously, changes in stigmatizing attitudes were used as the best indicator of success. Paradigms Lost and its authors argue that it is now necessary to measure changes in behaviors (both from the perspective of those stigmatized and those who stigmatize) to obtain a more valid measure of a program's success. Other myths to be challenged: providing knowledge about mental illness will reduce stigma, community care will de-stigmatize mental illness and psychiatry, people with a mental illness are less discriminated against in developing countries. Paradigms Lost concludes by describing key elements in successful anti stigma work including the recommended duration of anti-stigma programmes, the involvement of those with mental illness in designing programmes, and the definition of programmes in accordance with local circumstances. A summary of weaknesses of currently held paradigms and corresponding lists of best practice principles to guide future anti-stigma action and research bring this insightful volume to an apt conclusion.
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