Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Increases Public Stigma


People who saw an advertisement for Cymbalta were less likely to offer help, endorse recovery, and have positive attitudes regarding self-determination towards people identified with mental illness, according to research in February’s Community Mental Health Journal.  Those who self-identified as having a mental illness, however, reported less blame, less perceived dangerousness, less desire for social avoidance, more pity, and a greater willingness to help after viewing the advertisement.

Abstract →

Corrigan, P., Koslyuk, K., Fokuo, J., Park, J.; How Does Direct to Consumer Advertising Affect the Stigma of Mental Illness?. Community Mental Health Journal. February, 2014.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Isn’t de-stigmatizing a mental label kind of an oxymoron to begin with ?

    I can see how these ads would have an “us and them” polarizing effect on the results.

    Us people who get it Vs those people with broken brains that ‘need’ medication like in the advertizement.

    Let me try the test on myself,

    When simple pleasures hurt. This commercial presents words that normally should give everyone a nice feeling but in this case they are combined with the word “hurt” and are inserted in a visual showing people suffering from depression. In this straightforward “before and after” commercial people start depressed and end up being able to live a fulfilling live once Cymbalta is mentioned.

    (Ya right)

    I identify with falling for this scam.

    Check out Lilly executives discussing Cymbalta sales

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  2. A comic explains the psychiatric diagnosis. “You have a fat ass” is an insult so they fancy it up so the insulted doesn’t feel or perceive the insult.

    The doctor lacks he courage to confront the patient about the problem. the patient doesn’t know (is not told) what the problem is. The doctor expects magical insight to occur to the patient, when lack of knowledge is part of the reason the “bad” behaviour is occurring.–Kruger effect

    Throw in some mind altering drugs and you have a mental patient for life, because the patient can not judge and learn from cause and effect when their brain (feeling-thinking) is forcefully manipulated with psychiatric drugs.

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