Anti-Stigma Programmes Are Increasing Fear and Pre
MEDIA RELEASE May 28, 2007 UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND
Anti-Stigma Programmes Are Increasing Fear and Prejudice
The June edition of Australian Psychologist
includes an article entitled:
WHY PROMOTING BIOLOGICAL IDEOLOGY INCREASES PREJUDICE AGAINST PEOPLE LABELLED ‘SCHIZOPHRENIC’.
Its author is Dr John Read, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Auckland. The paper summarises international research showing that:
* The public, in 16 countries (including Australia and New Zealand) reject the idea that mental health problems are illnesses with biological causes, and believe instead that they are caused by adverse life events such as childhood abuse, poverty, extreme stress etc.
* The public also prefer psychosocial treatments like talking therapies to biological approaches such as psychiatric drugs and shock therapy
* Contrary to claims by biological psychiatry and drug companies, destigmatisation programmes – like ‘beyondblue’ in Australia – that encourage us to think of depression and psychosis as illnesses increase, rather than decrease, fear and prejudice. This has been found in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Germany, Russia, Italy and Mongolia.
Dr Read: ‘Portraying people as having brain diseases or faulty genes clearly increases stereotypes and distance. It is obvious why the drug companies are keen to fund programmes to teach us we are wrong about mental health problems being caused by bad things happening. The more they can push their simplistic illness model on us the more drugs they can sell. Recent increases in prescription rates are alarming.’
The paper concludes: “Progress towards a more evidence-based and effective approach to reducing prejudice may require a move to alternative funding, including government bodies who, hopefully, might be more interested in what actually works than in promoting a particular ideology or increasing sales of a particular type of product.”
Dr Read is the editor of the book ‘Models of Madness’ which documents all the research showing that hallucinations and delusions are, as the public believes, caused by abuse, neglect, violence, poverty and racism.
Dr Read will present his review next
month at mental health conferences in
Perth - www.rfwa.org.au;
and Brisbane - www.qldalliance.org.au ;