Definition of Stigma
The word 'stigma' originated from the Greeks who used it to “refer to bodily signs designed to expose something unusual and bad about the moral status” of a person. These bodily signs can be thought of as the lesions causing physical deformities in a person's skin in the context of leprosy.
American sociologist Erving Goffman defines "stigma" as an attribute that is deeply discrediting; a stigmatized individual is one who is not accepted and not accorded the respect and regard of his peers, who is disqualified from full social acceptance. It is associated with 1) physical deformities, such as facial plaques, facial palsy, claw hand deformity or ; 2) blemishes of character, such as are associated with alcoholism, drug addition, or leprosarium; or 3) race, nation, social class, sexuality and religion that are thought of as second-class by another group. Stigma itself is constructed based on “historical processes, cross-cultural differences, and structural inequalities,” which determine social norms.