Living with chronic illness: the interface of stigma and normalization

Can J Nurs Res. 2000 Dec;32(3):37-48.


Traditionally, researchers have studied and interpreted the chronic illness experience through a lens of either stigma or normalization, but rarely both simultaneously. When chronic illness is examined through a stigma lens, the findings tend to focus on the manner in which the individual suffers from the stigma. When it is examined through a normalization lens, the findings tend to articulate the ways in which the individual achieves normalcy despite having a chronic condition. This paper discusses the implications of assuming either of the two perspectives independent of the other. The authors argue that, in order to capture and understand the dynamic and evolving experience of people with chronic conditions, researchers should consider the interdependence of the two perspectives and avoid assumptions that derive from stigma or normalization alone. Considering stigma and normalization aspects of a chronic illness experience, in interaction over time, will facilitate a broader and more accurate understanding of the complex experience of people coping with chronic conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Bias
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Deception
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Disabled Persons / psychology
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Prejudice
  • Research Personnel / psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Sick Role
  • Social Values
  • Stereotyping*