Many patients hospitalised in the DCLA (and also their families) experienced a high degree of stigmatisation (for example being avoided by their neighbours and colleagues at work, etc.) owing to the mental illness in their family. Do you think people’s attitudes towards mental disorders have changed more recently? If so, why?

8 thoughts on “Stigmatisation

  1. Stigmatisation; I am wondering if you intend to look into the history of Digby Mental Hospital too.
    We grew up with the understanding that anybody who went to any psychiatric hospital in Exeter was a ‘Digby’ after the name of the Digby hospital. The phrase, ” You’m a proper Digby, you is”, was a comment often used by at least my mum, which would refer to somebody acting in a way which was deemed ‘mad’. It was often meant as a term of endearment. It was very different when somebody would be admitted to one of these hospitals. Then it wasn’t talked about or a person was classed as ‘having gone a bit funny’ or ‘had a nervous breakdown’. Can you imagine the shame to my parents when I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital? ….I have plenty more stories to tell should you be interested.

    • I would love to hear more. My mother was a patient here in the 1970’s. I don’t there is a stigma today, but in it’s time yes, and like you say, the word Digby, or your mad or mental would never be used in our household again. I thank God people have more compassion today, perhaps we understand more.

      I would love to hear more of your stories please.

      • I was only 11 or 12 when my mum was admitted there, I wanted to see her but it was also quite scary not knowing what you ight see or hear. Or how my Mum would be.
        Sadly she took an overdose when I was 13, it was a stigma both in saying your parent was in Digby and talking about suicide. I never told anyone at school.
        And I got put in the slower classes as I couldn’t concentrate due to grief so I got cruely named Digby. Or Dim Trim (my maiden name). There was no counselling offered for me then.
        I’m 59 now but the pain never truly goes away. (I lost my Dad at 15) all my siblings said it was heartbreak, it was a heart attack so who knows?
        All my siblings have suffered in some way sadly. Not as major, but being unsocialable creatures with big difficulties showing any emotions.
        It’s all very sad.
        I wish I didn’t remember this place and all that happened there.

    • I remember the term ‘Digby’ very well, although it was never used in my case. However, i have had to put up with the name ‘Psycho’ for 30 years, even now some still call me this regardless of my total transformation to Psychology undergraduate. Fortunately, due to the nature of my studies i have come to understand more about the Stigma surrounding mental health however, i still struggle to get to grips with some peoples unwillingness to move on.
      Education has played a major role in my recovery/transformation and i so wish others would take the time to educate themselves a little more.

      • Well done you. I took a two year intense counselling course after my ex left me and feelings of rejection that came up about my mum being mentally absent. My letter is here if interested.


  2. I was admitted to ‘Exminster Psychiatric Hospital’ in 1985, 6 months prior to it closing and i may well have been there longer if not for this closure.
    I have strong memories of other patients on my ward and even remember their names. However, over the years having caught up with old friends who came to visit me, i disturbingly i have no memories of them visiting because of the ‘VERY’ strong drugs i was given (chlorpromazine hydrochloride) or ‘Largactil’ as it became known.
    Today, i am currently 2 years into a BSc (Hons) Psychology degree and shall be starting work at ‘Langdon Hospital’ Dawlish in July 2015 working towards the position of Assistant Psychologist, and i hope to help others using my ”lived experience” of this most Victorian of Institutes.
    I truly love sharing my story with others, so do feel free to contact me…

  3. Id like to connect to anyone that was in digby in 1969. Im writing a book and would value your input. Staff of patients

  4. ‘re Christine s’ story. I went through a very similar time. Losing a father and step father. And mother spending many months then years in Digby. Thankfully suicide attempts failed.
    Electric treatment left her only remembering the past. Counselling was not available, and it has also left my life missing something

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