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Mental Patient Status, Work, and Income: An Examination of the Effects of a Psychiatric Label

Bruce Link
American Sociological Review
Vol. 47, No. 2 (Apr., 1982), pp. 202-215
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2094963
Page Count: 14
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Mental Patient Status, Work, and Income: An Examination of the Effects of a Psychiatric Label
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Abstract

Much controversy has focused on the effect of a label in bringing about the types of behavior the label connotes. This emphasis may have led some to ignore the possibility that a label can effect an individual in other ways. In the study "treated cases," individuals who have been treated, are compared to "untreated cases," individuals found to be similar in severity of psychiatric condition but who have not received an official label. Analyses controlling for psychiatric condition and other important variables show that a psychiatric label has a negative impact on income and work status. These results suggest that while a label may or may not directly affect the form of behavior for which it was affixed, it almost certainly has an impact on other areas. Finally, given these pejorative effects, there may be a partial role for labeling theory in understanding the stabilization of psychological disorder if a label increases environmental stress and decreases one's ability to cope with it.

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