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Jenna's picture

Should brains be fixed?

An interesting point which came up multiple times in our conversation was that there can be difference without disability and since it is just a difference they should not necessarily be “fixed.”  However, before it is decided that nothing should be done to help someone who is disabled I think it is important to define what the fixing consists of.  For example, I believe that autistic people can make many important contributions to our culture, but if they are unable to communicate these ideas than they will continue to feel isolated and society will miss out on their important contributions.  In this way, I believe that autistic “treatment” should continue as long as it focuses on how to effectively communicate with other people in their society.  It is not necessary to change how they think or feel but I do think it is necessary to teach them how to act in our culture.  This is similar to the example Natsu brought up about the boy who was touching others.  While it is not necessary to change how he thinks or feels about touching others it is necessary that he learns how to function in his culture or it will be difficult for him to participate in his culture.  Although some people may think it is unfair to ask him to change these actions I would argue that it is equally unfair to ask young girls to tolerate his uncomfortable touching.  Ideally there could be some compromise in which both parties could become comfortable with holding hands or hugging.


On a similar note, it was brought up that perhaps the majority of mental illnesses classified in the DSM should not actually be treated.  Although I recognize the importance of this argument, especially from historical examples such as homosexuality, I think that it is important for people to have treatment available if they desire it.  For example, if someone suffers from severe depression and want help to make them happy again they should not be told that this is how their brain is set up to work, it is normal, accepted, and valuable as it is.  This may be an appropriate response for someone who is content with their depression and views it as an important aspect of their self definition, but it should not be said to someone desperately seeking treatment.  I think the DSM criteria could be comforting to someone seeking help for depression and these people should not be denied treatment any more than someone should have treatment forced upon them.  One obvious problem with this scenario is that many people may seek treatment because their culture tells them something is wrong even though they are happy with themselves.  Therefore, I think it is necessary to change society as well as the “disabled/ different” individuals.  Society should work hard to become more accepting of differences and resist the urge to judge, while everyone should work to develop effective ways of communicating with each other and living together.  Although this would be difficult I do not think it would be impossible.  Going back to the previous example about the Japanese boy I do not think it would be impossible to picture the culture in his class changing to accept hand holding.


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