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Mothers’ Attitudes Affect Adult Children’s Mental Illness

Last Updated: June 14, 2011.

Stigmatizing attitudes of family members, particularly mothers, can negatively impact individuals with mental illness, according to a study published in the June issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

TUESDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Stigmatizing attitudes of family members, particularly mothers, can negatively impact individuals with mental illness, according to a study published in the June issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

Fred Markowitz, Ph.D., from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, and colleagues examined the effects of mothers' stigmatized identity appraisals of their children with mental illness on reflected and self-appraisals, and how these appraisals affect patient outcomes in terms of symptoms, self-efficacy, and life satisfaction. Data from 129 mothers and their adult children with schizophrenia were included in the study.

The investigators found that initial symptoms and functioning were related to how the patients' family members think about them, how the patients think others perceive them, and how they perceive themselves. Mothers' appraisals partially contribute to the effects of initial symptoms and functioning on reflected appraisals. Appraisals of others and reflected appraisals contribute in small part to the effects of outcomes on self-appraisals. Although stigmatized self-appraisals are related to outcomes, they are not directly affected by reflected appraisals.

"The ways in which people think about persons with mental illness affect the beliefs and actions of those with mental illness, in turn shaping the trajectory of recovery," the authors write.

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