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Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Lynn Bye, Social Work


Prior to the printing of the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) in 1980, mental health practitioners who treated homosexual clients were encouraged by the American Psychiatric Association to define these individuals as mentally ill. The label of mental illness had lasting, damaging effects on many of the people who were categorized mentally ill because of their homosexual orientation. The purpose of this exploratory, qualitative study was to examine the impact of being labeled mentally ill due to sexual orientation from the perspective of labeling and ecological theories. The study showed that the ability to resist some of the damaging effects of the label was mediated by resiliency factors and the development of a commitment to sexual orientation.This research may be helpful in framing questions and methods for further exploration of the impact of being labeled mentally ill based upon sexual orientation.

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