• Annon

Stigma, Sensitivity and Acceptance

Stigma: {noun} A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

Sensitivity. Do we see it as a strength or as a weakness?     

At a recent interview with a potential mentor, I asked, “what are your strengths?” “I am sensitive,” she responded. Then I asked “what are your weaknesses?” “I am sensitive,” she reiterated.

You read that correctly. It was not a mistake. Sensitivity. Do we see it as a strength or as a weakness? Does our society see sensitivity as a strength or as a weakness? As with all good Jewish answers………..it depends.

Why do we stigmatize the alcoholic or depressed person and not someone with a toothache or flu virus?

Many years ago, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski lectured on the topic of alcoholics and the stigma often attached to their profile. Because of his intimate knowledge of this population, Dr. Twerski described his clients suffering from an alcohol addiction as the most sensitive people he knew.  They would use alcohol to dull the overwhelming pain in their lives.

Alcoholism is an illness.  Depression is also an illness with both emotional and physiological characteristics. So why the stigma? Why do we stigmatize the alcoholic or depressed person and not someone with a toothache or flu virus?  Is there something we can do to change our perception and remove the stigma?

We should allow ourselves to feel vulnerable and sensitive to the pain of others.

We and society at large are guilty of faulting individuals suffering from an addiction or mental illness.  Too often, we dull our own pain by distancing ourselves from those suffering instead of recognizing that each of these individuals needs and will respond to attention as much as those suffering from a physical illness.  It takes strength to be sensitive to others.

We should allow ourselves to feel vulnerable and sensitive to the pain of others. We should not judge them for situations they did not create nor punish them for behavior that may be socially unacceptable. Let us all try to make space in our hearts and our lives to accept every person including his or her challenges. By doing so, we can actually save lives.  Research has shown that suicide is preventable by providing a listening ear. Our mesorah teaches us that when one visits a sick person, we decrease the illness by one-sixtieth. Giving our friends a safe accepting space to talk can reduce their pain and thereby their risk of self- destructive behaviors.

Each of us brings different strengths to our relationships. It behooves us to use those strengths to treat those who look and act differently with acceptance and sensitivity.  This may not solve the challenges people confront, but it will certainly reduce their pain and isolation.

  Sima Gordon, Community Mentoring Supervisor

 “However great the stigma attached to alcoholism or chemical addiction, it can no longer be allowed to interfere with getting help.” 

#sensitivity #mentalhealth #counseling #stigma #acceptance

0 views
Contact Us

Kav L’Noar Center
25 Keren Hayesod
POB 7685
Jerusalem 9107602

Kav L’Noar Foundation

348 Brook Avenue

Passaic, New Jersey 07055

Phone Numbers

02-622-3039

+1 (818)-293-0425

Connect with us

Registered Charity Numbers : (US) # 45-4071244  (ILS) #580425841  

© 2020 by Kav L'Noar