street . So victims often become increasingly selfconscious and hypervigilant .
The impacts of microaggressions may extend beyond psychological burden and also impact the body ’ s physiological state .
When humans perceive a sense of imminent danger , the body ’ s �fight , flight , free�e response� is activated . While this is a useful evolutionary mechanism to protect us from physical danger , when triggered frequently – as may be the case with microaggressions – it can take a toll on the body and contribute to issues such as high blood pressure , anxiety , depression and addiction .
Racial microaggressions have also been associated with suicide risk . One study found experiencing racerelated microaggressions leads to more symptoms of depression , which in turn increases thoughts of suicide .
Microaggressions may deter people from seeking help Health issues among victims may be further compounded when microaggressions are experienced in the health-care sector . A study from 2011 found that sexual orientation-related microaggressions ( for example , derogatory comments or assumptions about a person ’ s sexual orientation ) reduced the likelihood of LGBTIQ + people seeking psychotherapy and impacted their attitudes towards therapy and therapists .
Research involving Indigenous people also suggests microaggressions impact help-seeking behaviours in this group ( such as not scheduling or attending regular health-care appointments ), which subsequently increases the risk of hospitalisation .
Indirect effects of microaggressions Microaggressions may also impact people ’ s health
status indirectly . Research suggests repeated microaggressions can cause marginalised groups to internalise feelings of inadequacy .
Over time , this internalised oppression may impact their academic and professional success , and consequently socioeconomic status .
Sceptics and victim-blaming Sceptics often attribute microaggressions to victims ’ “ negative emotionality ” – a tendency to show negative affect and always feel like a victim .
However , proponents argue that this is a form of victim-blaming that further compounds the harm caused by microaggressions .
Clinical psychologist Monnica Williams suggests that the years of unchecked microaggressions themselves could be the very thing to cause negativity in marginalised people .
Victims ’ responses to microaggressors Victims ’ responses to microaggressions can vary among people , and among events experienced by the same person . Victims have to regularly decide whether to let it slide or confront the aggressor .
The discourse on microaggressions in social media seems to be on the rise . One study found that there was a drastic increase in the usage of the term “ microaggression ” on Twitter between 2010 and 2018 . Social media discussions and other online spaces may help victims ( particularly younger people ) to respond more critically to microaggressors .
Other technological innovations , such as the virtual reality-based intervention Equal Reality , are also helping people walk in another ’ s shoes , recognise unconscious bias , mitigate risk of microaggressions , and promote more inclusive workplaces . n
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com ISSUE 2 | 2023