Zukiphile, I agree with you as to the difficulty of "destigmatizing" mental illness; but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
Can you name an illness that is desirable? Let's see... heart disease... cancer... asthma... nope, I'd rather not have any of them.
When illnesses are stigmatized, it seems to me that it's because they're scary, either because of contagion and/or symptoms (think leprosy here) or because they're seen as incurable, and it's human to be afraid of death: it's only recently that cancer is losing some of its stigma, and a lot still remains. A close friend died of metastatic breast cancer last year, and it was both sad and surprising to see how many of her friends more or less abandoned her -- just couldn't hack being confronted with her illness. And "stigmatized" was how it felt to her.
Yes, some mentally ill people have symptoms that are scary, and a very few are dangerous -- empathy and compassion are still appropriate responses, along with making sure the few who are in fact dangerous aren't in a position to hurt themselves or others. (It's not that long ago that quarantining people with contagious diseases, thus dangerous to others, was standard practice -- it still is in some cases, at least in the short term.)
Last edited by Evan Thomas; January 4, 2013 at 01:24 PM.
Reason: it's 2013 now.