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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

On the matter of stigma

Stigma…or how to deal with the idiots.

The word itself has a splendid definition provided to us by Erving Goffman already sometime ago. He described it as “the phenomenon whereby an individual with an attribute which is deeply discredited by his/her society is rejected as a result of the attribute.”

I define it as just idiotism. It is exactly in the same category as racism, only if we do hear the occasional cries for sanity from all those who are victims of racism, in the domain of mental health it is still mostly all silent. Wrongly so, I must say, because if we (the mental) all united and spoke, then doctors would act as less superior, we would feel as less oppressed and the world would be a much better place to live. But we are not yet there, are we? And so, how to deal with stigma meanwhile?

My experience shows that you need to act superior to all those who think they are superior because they don’t have a mental health problem. For a start, most of us do have a mental health problem and I know plenty of people who simply prefer not to talk about it, and even if you do stumble occasionally upon an individual who is normal and slightly arrogant, then you need to act quickly in your defence. And the best defence while being mental is our imagination. I am lucky because I speak with an accent and once someone tells me that they are such and such, shop in that shop and have a huge house in that area, I just reply that I work for KGB and am in this country on an undercover mission. This usually does the trick as it eliminates all the annoying people and leaves the interesting ones, those who start inquiring about how to get a job with KGB.

KGB doesn’t always work, and so one needs to think of other potential superior lines. I once sat down and researched the languages that hardly anyone can speak. And so, if someone asks me what I do in life (I am actually a doctor of philosophy, a writer and speak 4 languages), I sometimes answer that I am a linguist and speak 6 languages. I then proceed to mention all the languages I know, such as Chamicuro, Basque, Frisian, Faroese, Sarsi, and Tok Pisin.

I can reassure you that you will be greeted with a dropped jaw if you pretend to be a linguist in rare languages.

Another good line is to say that you are dealer. I reckon that I used it only three times and no one volunteered to ask about the details of my job as a dealer. People immediately assume that you are a dealer in drugs (and those to whom I revealed this profession never talked to me again, I have to say) but in case someone turns out to be extra-curious, just say that you are a dealer in pants, and then add something like: ‘they banned all sexy pants in Russia, so I am shipping the nice ones back’.

And opportunities are endless. You see, as mental people we are blessed with imagination! So, use it! And use it to combat stigma, because once the normal ones will learn that all the mentals hold the most interesting jobs, they will be eager to join the crowd.