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Archives of Clinical Psychiatry (São Paulo)

Print version ISSN 0101-6083


GUARNIERO, Francisco Bevilacqua; BELLINGHINI, Ruth Helena  and  GATTAZ, Wagner Farid. The schizophrenia stigma and mass media: a search for news published by wide circulation media in Brazil. Rev. psiquiatr. clín. [online]. 2012, vol.39, n.3, pp.80-84. ISSN 0101-6083.

BACKGROUND: Schizophrenia is the most common illness used today as a metaphor in the media and routinely appears associated with crime and violence with no medical or scientific rigor, reinforcing the stigma against this disorder. OBJECTIVES: Evaluation of the presence of structural stigma in the Brazilian media by means of a survey of printed news and the Internet using the term "schizophrenia" and its correlates under three aspects: (a) medical and scientific uses, (b) assigning a diagnosis of schizophrenia to crime suspects with little or no medical or scientific rigor, and (c) the metaphorical use. METHODS: The study was conducted in three stages: search for publications, classification of items found and analysis of the context in which they were published. The survey was conducted in two periods: 2008 and 2011, the first being restricted to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo and the second extended to the homepage of the main Brazilian print media. RESULTS: We found 229 texts, distributed as follows: 89 (39%) records as science and health, with a tendency to impersonality; 62 (27%) records as crime and violence, in which the "diagnosis" of schizophrenia is given by lay people and "supported" by an archeology of the life of the suspect which enlists all sorts of non-standard behavior; and 78 (34%) records of metaphorical use, always with a negative meaning. DISCUSSION: Most of the texts found (a) does not give voice to people with schizophrenia and their suffering, (b) trivializes the use of this psychiatric illness out of context to describe contradictory or of dubious character political and economic decisions, and (c) reinforces the stigma that lays over the bearer of schizophrenia individualizing them only in rare violent cases with a supposed diagnosis.

Keywords : Social stigma; schizophrenia; prejudice; mass media; press.

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