Shadow and Camouflage: Mental Illness, Psychiatry, and the Decline of Stigma in Autism

April 12, 2018 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Levine Science Research Center, Duke University


2018 Autism Awareness Month Special Event

Sponsored by: 

Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development 
Duke Institute for Brain Sciences 
Duke Department of Cultural Anthropology

Note: Event is free but registration is required. To register, please click here


Speaker: Roy Richard Grinker, PhD
Professor of Anthropology, International Affairs, and Human Sciences
The George Washington University


The concept of stigma continues to vex theories of the relationship between the individual and society. Scientists, clinicians, and advocates speak of stigma in conditions as different as AIDS, Alzheimer's, and schizophrenia, in locations as different as rural Namibia and downtown Chicago, and among populations as different as hunter-gatherers and Wall Street executives. Are they all talking about the same thing? Or is stigma a concept that, in its simplicity, blinds us to the important questions of why one person is valued while another is alienated, and why one society embraces human differences that other societies abhor? How would we talk about 'stigma' if the word did not exist? In his lecture, Dr. Grinker will offer cross-cultural and historical perspective on the concept of stigma and address the question of why autism and other conditions are arguably less stigmatized today than in the past, while other disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder, remain in stigma's shadow.