View Full Version : self-stigma of disorders


guitar_queen
07-30-16, 02:47 PM
So there is something that I have to get off my chest. Actually I would just like some perspective so please let me know what you think of the situation I have described below.

The situation that bothers me happened around a month ago. At that moment I was still an intern working at a school for children with intellectual disabilities. I have been working as an intern (as a school psychologist) for the entire schoolyear and my supervisor (the school psycholoigist at the school) and I were evaluating how I had been doing the past year that I was interning there.

My year had not been easy as I found myself greatly troubled by my social anxiety and OCD (with my OCD related to my doing compulsions that I think will prevent me from making a fool of myself in front of people). The first half of the year I did not mention my social anxiety to my supervisor as I did not want to stigmatise myself.

Also, I aws scared that mentioning my social anxiety would create a self-fulfilling prophecy. In line with my social anxiety, I found it hard to ask other people something and I felt like I was constantly bothering everyone, making me feel nervous whenever I was around people and making it hard for me to interact with other people.

After the second half of the year, I mentioned my social anxiety to my supervisor and this helped me make more progress on the interacting aspects of the job.

So as we were evaluating the work I had done the past year, and my supervisor told me that she felt that I would not be ready yet to work as a school psychologist yet as my difficulties interacting with other people were still too present. I agreed with her on this one and had already told her before that I realised that I would need to work on reducing my social anxiety before being able to consider working as a school psycologist, so even though it was difficult to hear my supervisor tell me this, I still agreed with her.

However, what she told me after that still troubles me. She went on to say that she thinks that I might have autism. She told me that she found it difficult to tell me, but that she felt it necessary to say it because she felt that the behaviours that make her think that I might have autism will make it difficult for me to function well in a job such as a school pychologist.

By telling me she wanted to let me know that I might be helped if I got diagnosed with autism and received help for it. Also she wanted to tell me that because teachers at the school had been asking her whether I have autism.

I am very much bothered by her telling me that she thinks that I might have autism as she does not know enough about me to be able to diagnose me and it is not her job to diagnose me. I understand that she does not mean to hurt me, but if I were in her position I would not have mentioned a possible disorder that fits the troubles the intern was facing.

If I were in her position, I would have only mentioned the concrete problems the intern (I) was facing (difficulties asking questions, having conversations with people and such) and tell the intern that psychological help is an option. I don’t think that my supervisor should have avoided hurting my feelings by not telling me that my performance wasn’t good enough, but I do think that she was overstepping herself by telling me that I might have another disorder as well.

It makes me very upset. Disorders such as autism and social anxiety have stigma’s surrounding them and labelling people with them can sometimes do more harm than good. As my supervisor is a school psychologist, I feel that she should be more than aware of this and should have restricted herself to only mentioning the concrete behaviors she saw that she feels will restrict me in my profession without making it more abstract or bigger than necessary.

She knows very little about my personal life outside of my internship, but her telling me that she thinks that I might have autism gives me the impression that she can judge my entire life based on the few hours a week she see me. She doesn’t know what lies beneath my social anxiety and it is none of her business and should not have taken liberty at speculating at potential causes without asking my permission.

Now it just floats in the air. Am I am person with autism? I feel like I have to keep myself from self-stigmatising myself even more. Now I feel like avoiding social situations even more, as I feel that I will only have people think that I am socially awkward. And it upsets me that the people at the school were talking about me and whether I have autism behind my back.

They are teachers who tell their students to not bully others, but meanwhile they are labelling me while I was doing my best to help their students.

I am not really sure why I am writing this. It just upsets me. I feel betrayed and angry but I don’t want to be angry because I know my supervisor did not mean to hurt my feelings.

Cyllya
07-30-16, 03:32 PM
Hmm, you seem to take the suggestion that you have autism as some kind of insult. That's a different kind of self-stigma than you're talking about, I think.

guitar_queen
07-30-16, 04:07 PM
Hi Cyllya,

I am not sure what you mean with your comment, but just to be sure, I want to add that it is not my intention to make it seem as if I think that autism is something to be ashamed of. It's not my intention to make autism seem like a horrible thing to have. (just to be clear on this because I don't want to hurt any feelings)

However, I do have a problem with such labels being thrown around carelessly. Not every person who shows some 'autism' characteristics has autism and the problem with labels can evoke people to act according to this label or make other people interpret behavior in such a way that it is in line with this label. We are all people and I feel that we should be treated as individuals and deserve our behaviour to be seen as acts of individuals instead of acts of a disorder. My supervisor gave me the impression that she was convinced that i have autism, but couldn't recall many concrete situations that made her think of this. To me that is just wrong.

Fuzzy12
07-30-16, 06:37 PM
It's not her place to diagnose you and it's definitely not something she should be discussing with others.

Little Missy
07-30-16, 08:50 PM
Maybe it just flew out of her and she didn't know what to do afterward. :confused:

sarahsweets
07-31-16, 01:50 AM
Because you are an intern in the field that you are, maybe she felt like she had liberty to discuss her working theories with you. Not only is this wrong, but she could just as easily decided to give you medication advice, and what would happen if you took her advice and it didnt work out?
A doctor would be able to help you with this, not a psychologist. I know psychologist are very helpful, but I dont think they have the training to diagnose stuff- even if their hunches are correct or not.
Personally I would bring it up because you dont want to harbor resentment and also it would be a good idea to let her know that your personal issues are not up for discussion or advice.

Cyllya
07-31-16, 05:20 AM
A doctor would be able to help you with this, not a psychologist. I know psychologist are very helpful, but I dont think they have the training to diagnose stuff- even if their hunches are correct or not.


It's kind of a tangent, but psychologists are trained to diagnose this stuff. They'd probably be better trained on it than most medical doctors. (Especially in regards to autism, a psychologist or neuropsychologist is likely to be the most qualified.)

Little Missy
07-31-16, 05:52 AM
It's kind of a tangent, but psychologists are trained to diagnose this stuff. They'd probably be better trained on it than most medical doctors. (Especially in regards to autism, a psychologist or neuropsychologist is likely to be the most qualified.)

Maybe it is a regional thing. Psychologists and Neuropsychologists do not do any diagnosing here. Only MD's do and Doctors or Psychiatrists or Neurologists diagnose or prescribe medication.
In other states sometimes DO's diagnose and prescribe.
Perhaps in your area with the size of population that it has, things may be different.

Pilgrim
07-31-16, 05:54 AM
Try not to take it personally, I've had a few people make certain comments toward me, now I don't really care, cause everyone has something.

Not trying to be negative but she was having a swipe at you. Did you ask her why she thought you had autism?

Don't twist yourself up about this, I think.

sarahsweets
07-31-16, 06:43 AM
It's kind of a tangent, but psychologists are trained to diagnose this stuff. They'd probably be better trained on it than most medical doctors. (Especially in regards to autism, a psychologist or neuropsychologist is likely to be the most qualified.)

I dont know which part of the field autism falls under whether its psychology,psychiatry, neurology etc but I feel like a doctor of some kind should do the diagnosing. The extra training and schooling alone that they've had may help them with the specifics plus they could also oversee medication if needed. I cant imagine a client walking into the psychiatrist's office with a diagnosis from a psychologist and then expecting the doctor to just go along with it and prescribe medication.

guitar_queen
08-01-16, 07:46 AM
A doctor would be able to help you with this, not a psychologist. I know psychologist are very helpful, but I dont think they have the training to diagnose stuff- even if their hunches are correct or not.


Hi,

I think that this probably differs per country, as in my country it are psychologists who diagnose disorders such as ADHD and autism. A doctor in my country does not have that qualification.

Thank you all for your comments. I am still confused by it all, but I guess I just have to give it time.

Today I had a job interview for a waitressing job and the job interviewer told me that she didn't think that I have much flair. She wasn't sure how to word it, she said like: "well, I wouldn't call it shy, but you don't have much flair".
I got the job nevertheless, but it made me a bit sad. Do I look so socially flawed or something? Oh well. But now I have this job and I am hoping that this job will give me much exposure to other people and I'm hoping that this will help me become more social.