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Living with stigma and the self-perceptions of people with mild intellectual disabilities

Jahoda, A. and Wilson, Alastair and Stalker, K. and Cairney, A. (2010) Living with stigma and the self-perceptions of people with mild intellectual disabilities. Journal of Social Issues, 66 (3). pp. 521-534. ISSN 0022-4537

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There is now overwhelming evidence concerning the awareness people with moderate to mild intellectual disabilities' have about the stigma they experience in their lives. However, there is still controversy about the potential impact of stigma on their self-perceptions. This paper will draw on findings from an ethnographic study to show that even when individuals have difficulty expressing their views verbally, their actions can provide evidence of how they struggle to establish or maintain positive social identities - sometimes at the cost of their mental health. The implications of these and other findings will be discussed in relation to social constructionist theories of self-perception. This in turn will be linked to a discussion about the kind of support that might be required by people with intellectual disabilities, and how stigma might increase vulnerability to emotional and inter-personal problems.