Reeve, D. (2002) ‘Negotiating psycho-emotional dimensions of disability and their influence on identity constructions’, Disability & Society 17(5): 493-508.
This paper uses Foucault’s concept of ‘technologies of power’ to explore the ways in which the psycho-emotional dimensions of disability are created and maintained within society. The manner in which gaze and self-surveillance operate on the bodies of people with impairments to leave them feeling worthless, unattractive and stressed is considered, and the effects of impairment on these processes are also discussed. However disabled people are not simply passive victims of this form of emotional disablism -many exercise agency and resist. The manner in which disabled people resist the negative stereotypes is described and the process of ‘coming out’ as a disabled person is offered as an example of a ‘technology of the self’. This interplay of dominating and emancipatory forces is shown to contribute to a disability identity, which is fluid and which better represents the diversity of the disability experiences of disabled people than an essentialist disability identity.