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JaymElaine's picture

Disability...Yay or Nay?

Disability, as I have defined it, is a condition that has been deemed as "not normal" in our everyday society. Having a disability means that you may not be able to function "normally" or participate in even the simplest of routine activities, such as brushing your own teeth or feeding yourself without any help. I use the word "normal" in quotation marks and very loosely because I still question to myself and to others today, "what is normal?" With this question in mind, we begin to think about disability in our culture. Should we see disability and help those who we have labeled as disabled to become more acceptable in society, or should we instead change our ways/culture and not see disability as just that, a disability? Well, I say a little bit of both.

We should notice disability in our society, but not so much as a disability in the context that we use it today; instead, we should see it more as a difference. Those with disabilities such as autism, multiple personality syndrome, or schizophrenia will clearly be noticed in society and can perhaps be a danger to themselves and others. So yes, in these cases, we need to recognize these differences and lend our helping hands when needed. And let us be realistic as well; could you imagine a society without disability? How would the world change? As I mentioned in class last Tuesday, us scientists and researchers rely on the world’s disabilities to give us jobs! Are we not trying to cure cancer, find the gene for autism, and make better medicines for mentally ill patients? Face it, we need disability; for physicians and scientists, it brings purpose.

On the other hand it would be nice if culture as we know it today could change our views of disability. My goodness, the way things are going these days, everything is going to be a disability someday! I have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) so does that make me disabled? My brother has frequent panic attacks; is he also disabled? Both of us take medication on occasion for our symptoms, but we both function well in society. This leads me to another question; if the answer is "no" to my above questions, than how do we label the severity of a condition and label it as a disability? Do we instead have degrees of disability that can be mapped on the disability spectrum? And while we are thinking about all of this, we must then ask yet another question; aren’t we all disabled? It seems as though everyone has at least one problem that can be medically treated/fixed, whether its something more serious like schizophrenia or something less serious like frequent headaches.

Thinking about disability in today’s culture is tedious! There is so much to think about and so much to question; unfortunately, we do not have all the answers.


Jayme E. Hopkins, '08


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