Growing up, I struggled with it and often felt like I didn’t fit in with my peers. Despite my best efforts to hide my differences, I was often labeled as “weird” or “hyper”. These labels made me feel ashamed of who I was and left me feeling isolated at times. I don’t deny that it comes with drawbacks and does have issues. It is only recently that I have been open about it, as it has been accepted. But how did it go from a stigma to acceptance (and yes, it’s not fully accepted yet)
Well, the author Geoffrey Moore has models that works for products (well the diffusion of innovation.). Could the same be said for ‘stigmas’ and is this is what happened to things like mental health? Does that bell curve explain how a stigma goes from shaming / attacking / to being semi-accept and then accepted follows the same type of pattern. Notwithstanding the occasional setbacks we can look back and see how our culture evolves.
To understand why something is stigmatized what I could could come up with the following list:
- Lack of understanding or education about a particular group or condition
- Stereotypes perpetuated by media
- Cultural beliefs
- Fear of the unknown
I remember seeing a therapist at a young age (ADHD was not something defined and well known) and playing chess against the therapist. I don’t remember much more, nor do I know if it helped. But I do remember that I would not tell anyone that I was in therapy, as the other kids would make fun of you. And being a kid is a 24 hour by 365 day job trying not to be embarrassed. And looking at the why’s above explains it.
That weakness came from a stance of ignorance, and my childhood (like most) was filled of it. The jokes we told on stereotypes are seen as insensitive and fears we had often found had no basis. The parallel I can find is that as I grew up, it appears some of the ignorance went from being stigmas to acceptance and understanding. Mental health being one of the biggest, and ADHD as part of mental health is growing acceptance. Funny the word ‘ignorance’ when I was younger was an insult, and now the even that word has gained some acceptance in its use.
The question is how we erase this lack of knowledge, how do we move things that are stigmas to the norm. The wish is for something to be instantly accepted, but here we head back to Geoffrey Moore:
There are going to be the Early Adopters, those who are willing to accept the stigma as norm. For those struggling with it, the focus should be on only those. The majority will jump in when the early adopters have accepted it and prove they got it right. The notion of FOMO (fear of missing out) brings the rest of the crowd. The laggards, the bottom 10/15% may never get it. As much as this curve looks linear, there are going to be 2 steps forward and one step back occasionally (ok multiple steps back.)
So, what do we do now if we find ourselves in a situation where we fit a stigma? Look for other likeminded (early adopters) and don’t worry about the the early/late majority. Sad to say nothing will instantly make something mainstream.
And why am I talking about this? I see a few things going mainstream that were not before, and a few things going a little backwards. So, it is a reminder to me to try to be at the early adopter and accepting change vs. being the laggard. This means educating yourself, gaining understanding and do not letting ignorance be your guide. The hardest thing to do is unlearn something that you learned. Simple example is what comes up must go down. It is not true, if something is thrown with enough velocity to escape earth’s gravity it will never come down.
The great people I admire understand that change is going to happen, and you must adapt. It is not the universes job to adjust to you. I did struggle with this topic, but wanted to write it as a reminder that what I know not always is correct. Being right is not a silver bullet.
This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free. I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them
This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book. With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path. I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content. I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip. I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog. Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them.