Reviews Press

Knocking Bruno when he is down

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 02 October 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:816
  1. Raj Persaud, consultant psychiatrist and senior lecturer
  1. the Maudsley Hospital and Institute of Psychiatry, London

    How the media still stigmatises people with mental illness

    The term stigma derives from the ancient Greeks, who used it to refer to bodily signs designed to expose something unusually bad about the moral status of the possessor. The signs were cut or burnt into the body, advertising that the bearer was a blemished person, to be avoided, especially in public places.

    Last week the UK tabloid newspapers went out of their way to ensure that the ancient Greeks would have felt right at home in 21st century Britain. In their 23 September editions, they raced to cover the “sensational” story that national hero and boxer Frank Bruno had been admitted, under a section of the Mental Health Act, to a psychiatric hospital.

    The Sun led the way with the front page lead headline “Bonkers Bruno locked up,” while the Daily Star opted for “Sick Bruno in siege drama.” Following a storm of protest from many mental health charities, the Sun toned down its headline in later …

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