First Advisor

Todd Bodner

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors




Schizophrenia, Stigma (Social psychology), Schizophrenics -- Social conditions, Mentally ill -- Civil rights, Discrimination against the mentally ill




I examine stigma associated with schizophrenia and how psychiatric diagnosis, mental health professionals, the criminal justice system, and society ostracize and contribute to the suffering of approximately three million Americans. I doubt schizophrenia’s conceptualization as a progressively deteriorating biological disease and present the social conditions that accumulate stress for the individual and lead to psychotic episodes. I argue that schizophrenia cannot be understood as a “thing," but as a complex system of numerous variables contributing to a system of disorder resulting from prejudiced attitudes, discriminatory social-structural conditions, and unjust treatment of human beings needing extra resources to thrive. Ultimately, I present discrimination of people with psychological disorder as a human rights issue, parallel to the neurodiversity movement to normalize autism as existing in the greater variation of human neurodevelopment. People with psychotic symptoms do not need to be "cured;" they do need acceptance, assistance, and resources to thrive alongside their family, friends, and the greater society. I infer necessary radical structural change to diagnostics, treatment, and the criminal justice system to unravel structural discrimination. I hypothesize reducing stigma by an intermediate practical suggestion of eradicating the label “schizophrenia” from our language as stigmatizing. I draw upon 15 years of promising evidence of moderate reduction in social attitudes following Japan’s renaming of schizophrenia ("mind-split disease") to "integration disorder."


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