Stigma of Aging

The word stigma originates from ancient Greek and was used to indicate a sign or mark on the body designating the bearer as morally defective. Today, the word stigma is associated with having an unusual characteristic that conveys a negative social identity. There are many different stigmatizing characteristics, which include concealable and visible stigmas. Concealable stigmas are those that people are able to hide in everyday interactions with others—for example, stigmas associated with having a prison record, receiving welfare, or being diagnosed with a mental disorder. Other conditions are clearly visible (e.g., race, gender, age). A unique aspect of aging is that everyone, barring an early death, will experience stigmatization based on their advancing age. After people reach adulthood, the idea of growing older tends ...

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