Abstract© Cambridge University Press 2007.Stigma involves a negative evaluation of and associated lowering of respect for individuals because of some personal characteristic, which may be physical or behavioural. For a review see Major & O’Brien (2005). It may arise from violation of moral precepts, fear of contamination, pity, perception of reduced competence, disgust or any of a number of different evaluations. It can be ‘enacted’ in the sense that non-sufferers treat the stigmatized individual differently or ‘felt’ in the sense that the individual feels embarrassed or shamed regardless of what others do or feel (see Scambler, 1998). It can vary in intensity and clearly has no fixed boundaries. Thus people can feel and be stigmatized even by virtue of their age. Stigma as a phenomenon is important in medical practice partly because of medical conditions that arouse it and partly because of other characteristics that influence the way that medical conditions are addressed. Thus, mental illness carries a degree of stigma and that affects the degree to which patients seek help and the kind of help that is provided. However, poverty, age or lack of education can also be stigmatized and that can affect the treatment people receive for conditions such as heart disease.