Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Living with MS and Social Stigmas

Social stigmas are an unfortunate part of our society.  A social stigma is the extreme disapproval of a person or group of people based on a perception that something sets them apart from what is ‘normal’ or socially acceptable.  Social stigmas exist around mental illness, physical disability, disease, race, education, religion, ideology, and more.
Removing the stigma of MS.

One theory behind the many efforts to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis is to begin to remove the stigma of MS.  By educating people about the disease, we (those affected by MS) hopefully can show how our differences caused by MS do not make us so different after all.  In concert with that, increased awareness and knowledge may help others to recognize that our differences, whether visible or invisible, do set us apart from the average person and necessitate special considerations.

“I’m not drunk; I just have MS.”

This phrase is commonly used by people with MS to laugh at the effects of the disease.  But it also seems to establish that there is an unspoken hierarchy amongst stigmas.  Apparently walking around in an uncontrolled drunken manner (or stumbling while hammered off your ass, so to speak) is less acceptable than walking on the wobbly legs of someone who has impaired balance, coordination, or strength.  In essence, the phrase is emphasizing that ‘I’d rather be perceived as physically disabled, than as someone who doesn’t know when to stop chugging alcohol.’

“I’m not stupid; I just have cognitive information processing difficulties due to MS.”

Read this post in its entirety:

Living with MS: Overcoming Self-imposed Stigma

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