Mentalism or sanism describes discrimination and oppression against a mental trait or condition a person has, or is judged to have. This discrimination may or may not be characterized in terms of mental disorder or cognitive impairment. The discrimination is based on numerous factors such as stereotypes about neurodivergence, for example autism, learning disorders, ADHD, bipolar, schizophrenia, and personality disorders, specific behavioral phenomena such as stuttering and tics, or intellectual disability.
This article is written like a personal reflection, personal essay, or argumentative essay that states a Wikipedia editor's personal feelings or presents an original argument about a topic. (July 2016)
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Like other forms of discrimination such as sexism and racism, mentalism involves multiple intersecting forms of oppression, complex social inequalities and imbalances of power. It can result in covert discrimination by multiple, small insults and indignities. It is characterized by judgments of another person's perceived mental health status. These judgments are followed by actions such as blatant, overt discrimination which may include refusal of service, or the denial of human rights. Mentalism impacts how individuals are treated by the general public, by mental health professionals, and by institutions, including the legal system. The negative attitudes involved may also be internalized.
The terms mentalism, from "mental", and sanism, from "sane", have become established in some contexts, though concepts such as social stigma, and in some cases ableism, may be used in similar but not identical ways.
While mentalism and sanism are used interchangeably, sanism is becoming predominant in certain circles, such as academics, those who identify as mad and mad advocates and in a socio-political context where sanism is gaining ground as a movement. The movement of sanism is an act of resistance among those who identify as mad, consumer survivors, and mental health advocates. In academia evidence of this movement can be found in the number of recent publications about sanism and social work practice.
Mentalism tends to be referred as mental disability, distinguishing itself from ableism, which refers to physical disability.