Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Program

Psychology

Date of Award

8-2015

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Stacey L. Williams

Committee Members

Eric Sellers, Ginni Blackhart, Matt McBee, Jill Stinson

Abstract

The internalization of mental illness stigma is associated with an array of negative consequences; however, not all individuals experience the deleterious effects of internalized mental illness stigma. The present dissertation focuses on factors associated with internalized stigma, and will be the first to examine simultaneously both risk (i.e., shame, shame proneness and shame aversion, insight, and centrality and valence) and protective factors (social support and self-compassion) of internalized mental illness stigma. Using two of the most widely used assessments of internalized mental illness stigma (i.e., Self-Stigma of Mental Illness Scale [SSMIS] and the Internalized Mental Illness Scale [ISMI]), risk and protective factors were examined among adults recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT; n = 215) and Facebook (n = 153) who self-reported a mental illness diagnosis. Whereas among AMT participants, shame proneness and centrality were significant predictors of the process of internalization of mental illness stigma (measured by the Stereotype Self-Concurrence subscale of the SSMIS), among Facebook participants centrality was the only significant predictor of process of the internalization of mental illness stigma. In addition, whereas among AMT participants, shame proneness (measured by the PFQ-2), centrality, valence, and social support were significant predictors of the experience of internalized stigma (measured by the ISMI), among Facebook participants state shame, centrality, valence, and social support were significant predictors of the experience of internalized stigma. Thus, centrality was the only significant risk factor across measures and samples. It is possible that the current dissertation may help to differentiate individuals at particular risk for internalization and ultimately to harness resilience for those diagnosed with a mental illness, particularly among those diagnosed with mood or anxiety-related diagnoses.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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