Original Article

Stigma and the perception of bodily parts: Implications for help seeking

  • SIBYLLA VERDI HUGHES
  • DAVIDE PIETRONI

Pelviperineology 2014;33(1):29-31

The present paper covers the first of a four part series that will investigate the hypothesis that people may have biased cognitive representations of the body's parts (body schema) and that this may have implications for illness behaviour, disclosure, and help seeking. In fact, seeking help for medical needs varied across body parts, with test subjects less likely to seek help for highly stigmatized and private parts but likely to seek help for parts viewed as important and vulnerable. To test if we could minimize this effect, we conducted a series of interventions aimed at changing cognitive perceptions and schemas of the body on randomly selected test subjects. We compared the various interventions and measured the efficacy of each different type of intervention in changing cognitive perceptions of test subjects. Among the interventions carried out and measured were: storytelling, group work, humour, empty chair and empowering. We discuss which of these interventions produced the greatest changes in cognitive representations of the body and the implications of these findings.

Keywords: Body; Stigma; Health promotion; Intervention; Private parts