Psychospiritual Aspects of Sense of Self in Women with Physical Disabilities

By Nosek, Margaret A.; Hughes, Rosemary B. | The Journal of Rehabilitation, January-March 2001 | Go to article overview

Psychospiritual Aspects of Sense of Self in Women with Physical Disabilities


Nosek, Margaret A., Hughes, Rosemary B., The Journal of Rehabilitation


When asked for the main lesson learned from our first study of women with physical disabilities (Nosek et al., 1997), we came up with the following statement, "If you truly believe you are a woman of value, you gain tremendous strength to forge your way through the most stubborn of barriers." This theme was reconfirmed in subsequent qualitative studies conducted by the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities. In statistical analyses of survey data "sense of self" has also proven to be significant, even more than severity of disability, in predicting outcomes in women's lives. For example, whether the woman had slight difficulty in walking or used a power wheelchair with a ventilator, her concept of her value was much more important than the level of her disability in predicting satisfaction with relationships and her practice of healthy behaviors. In a philosophical framework, sense of self can be interpreted as a construct with strongly spiritual dimensions and the strength that comes from it can be interpreted as having divine origins. This paper reviews findings on self-esteem, self in connection to others, and self-efficacy among women with disabilities. Expressions of spirituality have emerged in several of the studies we have conducted, and this paper also explores spirituality as a dimension of sense of self for women with physical disabilities.

Background

The concept of self is discussed extensively in the most ancient and essential philosophy of India, Vedanta. It holds that there is an unmanifest Universal force called Brahman. Catholics refer to this same force as the Holy Spirit; Quakers call it the Light. When this force becomes manifest in living beings, Vedantists call it the Atman, or Self. Once embodied, however, ego develops and awareness becomes entangled in the web of maya, the illusions of worldly existence, the play of forces on the conscious plane. At this stage it becomes the self with a small "s" and becomes unaware of the Light within. According to the Vedantic scriptures (the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita) the goal of living is to become aware of the Self, the Light within, and become one with it.

Developing a sense of Self, therefore, can be seen as an essentially spiritual journey. The world's scriptures, prophets, spiritual traditions, and religious institutions offer many paths that can be followed by individuals who seek to make this journey. Developing a sense of self with a small "s", on the other hand, is a more worldly endeavor, involving sorting out the complex web of physical and psychological genetic predispositions, personality types, ego characteristics, personal histories, interpersonal relationships, and societal and cultural expectations. The intermixture of the two, understanding the self in the Self, is the underlying premise that will guide the interpretation of research findings presented later in this paper.

Sense of self in the psychology literature has been examined as a multifaceted construct, including three elements of particular interest in our studies--self-esteem, self in connection to others, and self-efficacy. Self-esteem is defined as personal self-regard (Bednar & Peterson, 1995), attitude toward one's self (Rosenberg, 1965), and the evaluation of one's self-concept as positive or negative, neutral, or ambiguous (Frey & Carlock, 1989). It is how we assess our worth and competence, in terms of how we think, feel, and act (Leary & Downs, 1995). For persons with disabilities, the discrimination and prejudice we experience conveys the message that we are devalued and unworthy, messages that may become internalized, becoming incorporated into our definitions and evaluations of ourselves (Coleman, 1986; Goffman, 1963; Jones et al., 1984). For women, who are socialized to award relationships a central role in their self-definition, this message of disrespect may be especially invalidating and damaging to their sense of self. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Psychospiritual Aspects of Sense of Self in Women with Physical Disabilities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.