Women with Disabilities: Essays in Psychology, Culture, and Politics

By Michelle Fine; Adrienne Asch | Go to book overview

goddess. My field experiences support Fiedler's argument that physically variant members of the culture, simply as a consequence of their appearance, serve as metaphors for fundamental issues of human consciousness and evoke powerful feelings. In addition to the accounts of people with disabilities, our presumably able-bodied reactions can reveal much about our culture's formulation of embodiment. -- What, after all, is a little boy doing, gleefully threatening with a penknife to take off the head of a limb-deficient little girl? -- Conversely, understanding the culture's formulation of embodiment makes us more cognizant of what physically variant individuals must accomplish in order to live fully in society at a given time.


Notes
1.
Spiegelberg ( 1976:524) points out that Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology strikes chords of resonance with the work of such Anglo-American philosophers as Whitehead, Dewey, Lovejoy, and Mead. G. H. Mead ( 1934) was particularly important in the development of the field of social psychology, which concerns itself with the relationship among self-awareness, the responses of others to behavior, and identity. The work on illness and disability in social psychology, with its attention to "somatopsychological" problems, resembles closely the phenomenological approach based on "embodiment" suggested here. The former tends toward the measurement of population variables, the latter toward the interpretation of experience. For interpreting experiences related to disability the rubric of "embodiment" is more abstract, and therefore more inclusive, than the concept of "adjustment."
2.
Another important concept in the study of disability is that of "stigma." Goffman's ( 1963) work in sociology on this topic, with its attention to face-toface relations, shows the influence of the phenomenologist Alfred Schutz's work on intersubjectivity. In this and earlier writings on "impression management" ( 1959), Goffman points out practices used to present or withhold information about oneself to others for strategic advantage in face-to-face encounters. Again, "embodiment" is a more inclusive rubric that includes, for example, behaviors relating to function that have nothing to do with cosmesis.
3.
According to Berkowitz ( 1980), rehabilitation medicine was a product of World War II. New surgical procedures that prolonged the life expectancies of paraplegics created the medical problem of restoring their bodily functions as well. "Rehabilitation," as developed by military doctor Howard Rusk and others, had the goal of "the restoration of a disabled person to his highest functional level" (p. 112) and was intended to address all aspects of the person. A large grant by Bernard Baruch financed programs at Columbia and other universities to promote research and training in physical medicine. The concept of rehabilitation centers based on interdisciplinary teams providing interrelated services was endorsed by the federal government. The Child Amputee Prosthetics Project is a center on that model. From its inception in 1955 to 1959, it was financed with funds made available to the State of California from the United States Children's Bureau and later received support from other federal agencies ( Blakeslee 1963:xii).
4.
Spiegelberg ( 1976:525-526) writes: "Merleau-Ponty's thought has been

-68-

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Women with Disabilities: Essays in Psychology, Culture, and Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface and Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction: Beyond Pedestals 1
  • Notes 31
  • References 32
  • I: Bodies and Images 39
  • Notes 40
  • 1. on Embodiment: A Case Study of Congenital LImb Deficiency in American Culture 41
  • Notes 68
  • References 70
  • 2.Sex Roles and Culture: Social and Personal Reactions to Breast Cancer 72
  • Notes 85
  • 3. in Search of A Heroine: Images of Women with Disabilities in Fiction and Drama 90
  • References 110
  • Ii: Disabled Women in Relationships 111
  • Notes 112
  • 4. the Construction of Gender and Disability in Early Attachment 115
  • References 136
  • 5. Daughters with Disabilities: Defective Women Or Minority Women? 139
  • References 170
  • 6. Friendship and Fairness: How Disability Affects Friendship Between Women 172
  • Notes 192
  • References 192
  • 7. Disability and Ethnicity in Conflict: A Study in Transformation 195
  • Notes 213
  • 8. Never-Married Old Women and Disability: A Majority Experience 215
  • Note 224
  • References 224
  • Iii:Policy and Politics 227
  • 9. Women, Work, and Disability: Opportunities and Challenges 229
  • References 243
  • 10. Disabled Women and Public Policies for Income Support 245
  • References 267
  • 11. Autonomy as A Different Voice: Women, Disabilities, and Decisions 269
  • Notes 292
  • 12. Shared Dreams: A Left Perspective on Disability Rights and Reproductive Rights 297
  • Notes 305
  • 13. Smashing ICons: Disabled Women and the Disability and Women's Movements 306
  • Notes 329
  • References 331
  • Epilogue: Research and Politics to Come 333
  • Notes 336
  • About the Contributors and Index 337
  • About the Contributors 339
  • Index 343
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