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J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc. 2000 Sep;39(5):838-848. Korean. Original Article.
Kim SW , Yoon JS , Lee MS , Lee HY .
Department of Neuropsychiatry, College of Medicine, Chonnam National University, Kwangju

OBJECT: Social stigma and prejudice against schizophrenia hinder the prevention of the disease, early treatment and social rehabilitation. This stigma and the negative viewpoint against schizophrenia are enhanced by the mass media. This study investigated newspaper articles on psychosis, which strongly influence the public recognition of the illness. METHOD: The newspaper articles of Dong-A Ilbo and Chosun Ilbo from March 1998 to February 2000 were reviewed through a news-searching program in Chollian. The search words, which were regarded as psychotic illness, were Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Mental illness, and Mental derangement. A total of 326 articles were classified by category and analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. The viewpoint of articles on psychosis consisted of these: (1) negative (direct or indirect) (2) neutral or positive (3) no specific viewpoint. RESULT: Of the 326 articles, the number with a negative description was 228 (69.9%), the number with a neutral or positive description was 43 (13.2%), and the number with no specific viewpoint was 55 (16.9%). The most frequent negative theme was psychotic patients are dangerous or violent or may commit a crime (n=118). Other negative themes were these: psychotic patients are bizarre or grotesque (n=27), psychotic patients can't function in society well(n=18), psychosis is incurable and families should bear great burden(n=16), psychosis is shameful (n=13) and psychotic patients should be institutionalized(n=6). There were also prejudices against the cause of the illness(n=18), the description of psychosis in degrading terms(n=22) and the negative description of psychiatric hospitalization(n=18) with the words such as institutionalization, imprisonment and put into etc. In the articles using the terms mental derangement or psychosis compared with mental illness, schizophrenia and in the articles describing psychotic patient compared with illness itself, the frequency of negative articles was high. Within each type of article, news, politics and culture articles more frequently had a negative description, while health articles less frequently had a negative description and most frequently had a neutral or positive description. CONCLUSION: There should be a program for monitoring newspapers for appropriate in-formation on psychosis. It might reduce social stigma and consequently help rehabilitation of psychotic patients. Also there should be endeavors to monitor other mass media and to develop a public education campaign through the mass media.

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