How can Eminem and `stigma research` offer insights in to positive service user experiences?...

..."If, as I have been arguing, stigma is a cause of stress, then stigma as a way of life will turn out to be a cause of ill health. And the effect will be a direct consequence of stigma itself, not an indirect result of it. In other words, it will turn out that people on the bottom of society's hierarchies, who die younger and endure more illnesses, will suffer because they perceive themselves at the bottom - not just because they can't afford doctors or good food or safe housing. " - Us and Them: Understanding your tribal mind, pp 262-263.

"I am what ever you say I am..." - Eminem, The Way I am, The Marshall Mathers LP [Explicit].
So if service users are aware that they are disadvantaged, at the fringes of society, and are trying to parachute out of an environment of under-achievement and apathy, then these descriptive aspects of the very services users will manifest and play out as self-fulfilling prophesies.

It is a bit like a theatrical performance, where, when you outline the actors, set the script, and the stage, what do you think the outcomes will be based on these self-determining factors and conditions? How do you think the show will play out?

This is far from fiction, when you take into account Phil Zimbardo's 1971 prisoner/guard experiment carried out in a Stanford university basement, which was turned into a mock prison. In a nutshell the experiment documented how people can very quickly adapt their behaviour and easily fall into pre-defined roles, rules, conditions and expectations. Links to this striking research is available at the bottom of this article ;-)

So we may either extrinsically be exhibiting behaviour which projects our beliefs, or express biases which nurture our buried prejudices or subliminal stereotyping. There's plenty of research in this too!

Personal conversations and fabulous idea exchanges with various "charity chums" has provided me with numerous examples whereby people are described and pigeon-holed as cases for "special need" and attention, and that the programmes that are delivered are for "disadvantaged" or "vulnerable" people. Etc... mmmmm.

So, as service providers and key workers we need to watch our language and frame senses of achievement for our service users or clients from the "additive perspective". Within this view, the person is already complete. We, as service providers and facilitators within the third sector, have the responsibility to point people to resources and personal tools (emotional and spiritual) that will enable them to embrace and take advantage of life's future possibilities. A future, where their lives become a regular source of joy and tranquility.

Don't take my word for it, check out the research and catch you another time ;-)


"Us and Them: Understanding your tribal mind"

"I am what ever you say I am..." - Eminem,The Way I am, The Marshall Mathers LP [Eplicit]

Stanford Prison Experiment
A Simulation Study of the Psychology of Imprisonment Conducted at Stanford University

Abu Ghraib: Why good people turn evil

Social Stigma Causes Poor Math Performance by U.S. Students, Study Suggests

Negative performance and the impact of: Stereotype threat

Buried Prejudice: The Bigot in Your Brain

Decision Making Suffers from Unconscious Prejudices

The Implicit Prejudice

Tricky, Turbulent, Tribal: Friend or foe is a mutable designation

Stereotype Threat and Female Students’ Math Performance

The Neuroscience of Stigma and Stereotype Threat