Sociological Imagination: Western’s Undergraduate Sociology Student Journal

Article Title

Mental Health Stigma: The Impact of Labels for Axis I versus Axis II Disorders in the DSM-IV


This review paper critically examines the literature surrounding the creation of diagnostic categories in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Several contrasts between Axis I clinical disorders and Axis II personality disorders are outlined, including differences in treatment options, availabilities, and disorder prognoses. These factors are explored in order to support the notion that the DSM’s arbitrary separation of these labels has created a differential stigma associated with Axis I and Axis II disorders for both patients and clinicians. The current paper explores the political elements involved in the social construction of diagnostic categories in the DSM-IV, highlighting the role of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and various pharmaceutical companies. This review uses Foucault’s power- reflexive framework to further examine the implications of this differential stigma. Self-efficacy, social schemas, stigma management, and the impact of labeling are discussed.

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