Erving Goffman revisited

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 12 October 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:817
  1. Honor Merriman, general practitioner
  1. Headington, Oxford

    Thirty years ago, when I was a medical student, I read two of Erving Goffman's books. Asylums(1961) examined “total institutions” such as mental hospitals and prisons and showed how inmates can become degraded and dehumanised. The other was Stigma(1963), which I found harder to read, the core of which was about the persona projected by people who carry a feeling of different-ness (or stigma). Compared with the standard texts on psychiatry we were advised to read, these books, written by a Canadian sociologist, were refreshing, particularly …

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