Mental Illness Stigma: Overcoming the 'Scarlet Letter' of Our Times

October 1, 2014 2:49 PM

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Mental Illness Stigma: Overcoming the 'Scarlet Letter' of Our Times

Perhaps you read the book The Scarlet Letter in high school or saw the Hollywood version. In the book, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the protagonist, Hester Prynne, commits adultery and becomes pregnant. She is forced to wear a scarlet letter "A" (for affair and adultery) on her dress as a sign of shame, making her a pariah.

While I've never been in that position directly, I have lived in Hester Prynne's world in another way: I am a person living with a mental illness known as bipolar disorder. I remember when I was diagnosed in 1996. I was a freshman at Emory University in Atlanta. I was two months in, and in those two...

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