Category Archives: Chapters

Disgust, self-disgust and disability: A disability studies perspective (chapter, 2015)

Reeve, D. (2015) ‘Disgust, self-disgust and disability: A disability studies perspective’, in P. Powell, P. Overton and J. Simpson (eds) The Revolting Self: Perspectives on the Psychological and Clinical Implications of Self-directed Disgust, London: Karnac Books, pp. 53-74.


There has been little written within disability studies about the role of self-disgust in the lives of disabled people. Drawing on both psychological and sociological approaches, this chapter will look at the assumptions and realities of self-disgust in the lives of those whose ‘impaired’ bodies and minds cause them to be labelled as disabled, and therefore in the eyes of some, to be viewed as deviant and disgusting.

Within contemporary Western society, disability is viewed as a negative identifier of difference; cultural messages and images reinforce the inherent undesirability of impairment and there few positive representations of disabled people. Therefore it is to be expected that many disabled people end up internalising these cultural myths and prejudices about disability, believing that they are somehow of lesser value than non-disabled people. This phenomenon of internalised oppression will be discussed with reference to some of the psychoanalytic ideas developed as part of a contextual psychology of disablism (Watermeyer, 2013) to discuss the relevance of self-disgust when considering the different ways that disabled people manage and challenge internalised oppression.

In addition this chapter will consider the experiences of disabled people who live with incontinence, an impairment which directly challenges the modernist project that demands bodies which are contained, clean and free from contamination. It will be shown that rather than simply feeling self-disgust towards bodies which truly are unruly and leaky, over time these disabled people develop alternative ways of being which provide more positive and healthy relationships between body and psyche than might otherwise be expected.

Psycho-emotional disablism in the lives of people experiencing mental distress (chapter, 2015)

Reeve, D. (2015) ‘Psycho-emotional disablism in the lives of people experiencing mental distress’, in H. Spandler, J. Anderson and B. Sapey (eds) Madness, Distress and the Politics of Disablement, Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 99-112.


The traditional social model of disability focuses on the public, structural barriers faced by disabled people and has been criticised as having little relevance for those people experiencing mental distress. However this group of disabled people do experience psycho-emotional disablism in the form of disablist hate crime and prejudiced attitudes from others. Using this as a starting point, this chapter adopts an extended social relational definition of disablism (Thomas, 2007) to show the interconnections between mental distress, disablism and impairment and considers how they are mediated by structural disablism, psycho-emotional disablism, and the psycho-emotional effects of impairment. A three-fold model is proposed which recognises: mental distress as a diverse way of ‘being’ rather than pathology; the disabling consequences of living with prejudice and stigma; the ‘stickiness’ of impairment within accounts of living with mental distress; and the experience of people living with mental distress and other forms of impairment.

This is an updated version of 2012 chapter. My ideas are further developed, linking together psycho-emotional disablism, structural disablism and impairment in the lives of people experiencing mental distress.

Part of the problem or part of the solution? How far do ‘reasonable adjustments’ guarantee ‘Inclusive Access for Disabled Customers’? (chapter, 2014)

Reeve, D. (2014) ‘Part of the problem or part of the solution? How far do ‘reasonable adjustments’ guarantee ‘Inclusive Access for Disabled Customers’?’, in K. Soldatic, H. Morgan and A. Roulstone (eds) Disability, Spaces and Places of Policy Exclusion, Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 99-114.

This chapter looks at ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the environment and shows how they can cause indirect psycho-emotional disablism.

Psycho-emotional disablism and internalised oppression (chapter, 2014)

Reeve, D. (2014) ‘Psycho-emotional disablism and internalised oppression’, in J. Swain, S. French, C. Barnes and C. Thomas (eds) Disabling Barriers – Enabling Environments, 3rd Edition, London: Sage, pp. 92-98.

This book chapter provides a useful summary of psycho-emotional disablism and the connection with internalised oppression.

Cyborgs, cripples and iCrip: Reflections on the contribution of Haraway to disability studies (chapter, 2012)

Reeve, D. (2012) ‘Cyborgs, cripples and iCrip: Reflections on the contribution of Haraway to disability studies’, in D. Goodley, B. Hughes and L. J. Davis (eds) Disability and Social Theory: New Developments and Directions, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 91-111.

This chapter was requested by one of the book editors who wanted to see how I would use the work of Haraway when applied to disability. I use cyborg theory to look at embodiment and to illustrate the way in which impaired cyborgs, are potentially able to unsettle the binary divisions between normal/abnormal, non-disabled/disabled as exemplified by iCrip.

Psycho-emotional disablism: The missing link? (chapter, 2012)

Reeve, D. (2012) ‘Psycho-emotional disablism: The missing link?’, in N. Watson, A. Roulstone and C. Thomas (eds) Routledge Handbook of Disability Studies, London: Routledge, pp. 78-92.

This book chapter uses the phenomenological concept of social dys-appearance to highlight the embodied nature of psycho-emotional disablism and the manner in which it is mediated by impairment and impairment effects via the operation of cultural prejudices about disability.


Psycho-emotional disablism in the lives of people experiencing mental distress (chapter, 2012)

Reeve, D. (2012) ‘Psycho-emotional disablism in the lives of people experiencing mental distress’, in J. Anderson, B. Sapey and H. Spandler (eds) Distress or Disability? Proceedings of a symposium held at Lancaster Disability 15-16 November 2011, Lancaster: Centre for Disability Research, Lancaster University, pp. 24-29.

This chapter is an extended version of the symposium paper. The other papers presented at this symposium can be found in the proceedings.

The ideas presented in this chapter looking at the relevance of psycho-emotional disablism for those people experiencing mental distress were then further developed in a subsequent book chapter.


Biopolitics and bare life: Does the impaired body provide contemporary examples of homo sacer? (chapter, 2009)

Reeve, D. (2009) ‘Biopolitics and bare life: Does the impaired body provide contemporary examples of homo sacer?’, in K. Kristiansen, S. Vehmas and T. Shakespeare (eds) Arguing about Disability: Philosophical Perspectives, London: Routledge, pp. 203-217.


Agamben describes the concept of homo sacer which refers to someone whose “entire existence is reduced to a bare life stripped of every right by virtue of the fact that anyone can kill him [sic] without committing homicide” (Agamben, 1998:183). Homo sacer can be considered to be an outlaw or bandit; someone who is not simply outside the law and indifferent to it, but who has instead been abandoned by the law. This renders homo sacer exposed and threatened on the threshold where life and law, inside and outside, become indistinguishable. Whilst Agamben uses homo sacer to analyse contemporary Western politics, I will utilise this figure on a less grand scale to present some initial ideas about how homo sacer can provide a model for the exclusion of disabled people from participation in society.

I will argue that foetal screening and the recently proposed (and rejected) Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill represent clear examples of bare life within which  “normative schemes of intelligibility establish what will and will not be human, what will be a liveable life, what will be a grievable death” (Butler, 2004: 146). I will also explore the ways in which institutional care of disabled people and enforced psychiatric hospitalisation can be linked to recent discussions about the nature of refugee camps and detention centres – examples of modern day ‘camps’ which represent states of exception.

Finally I will use the concept of homo sacer to consider some examples of psycho-emotional disablism arising from the experience of living and moving within the zones of indistinction between inclusion and exclusion, exception and rule. This paper aims to show that the liminal figure of homo sacer offers an alternative to existing Foucauldian analyses of disability which focus on the production of normality rather than the suspension of law and production of exception provided by Agamben.

This chapter was my first publication using the work of Agamben, an approach which underpinned my PhD thesis.