The Danger of Media Induced Stigma

Recently, I started watching a series called “The Resident”.

It tries to show both the noble dedication of medical professionals and the dark, unethical side of hospitals and healthcare.

This narrative also contains a storyline about one of the main character’s sisters and her struggles with addiction. The portrayal is full of shame, stigma, and misinformation.

Throughout the series, doctors repeatedly stigmatize patients by calling them “addicts”.

They label the character supporting her sister as “codependent” and an “enabler”.

Many doctors in the series say that “addicts” and “alcoholics” can’t change.

The show uses shallow storylines to back those claims.

In one troubling scene, a character struggling with addiction faces physical and verbal abuse.

Then she’s cast out onto the streets.

Moments later, she’s shown alone and frightened, walking up to her sister’s door, tearfully asking for help.

This implies that tough love works and is the solution.

Television and movies have a significant influence on shaping perceptions, societal norms, and belief systems.

Reflecting on my journey, I see that before my daughter’s addiction, I wouldn’t have questioned the story’s validity and I would have accepted it as fact.

I tried tough love as a solution, despite it conflicting with the kind of mom I’d always been. This shows the influence of a lifetime of exposure to TV, movies, and other media on my belief system.

That’s how stigma works, it’s so widely accepted that we can’t identify it as stigma.

Of course, after a lifetime of shows like this and then “experts” that reinforced what I saw in the media, I did what I thought I had to do to help my daughter.

Watching “The Resident” helped me have more compassion for myself and even some forgiveness for the years I tough loved my daughter.

How has the media shaped your beliefs?