Psycho-emotional dimensions of disability and the social model (paper, 2002)

Reeve, D. (2002) ‘Psycho-emotional dimensions of disability and the social model’, paper presented at The Social Model of Disability: Theoretical Considerations and Concerns (ESRC/CDS Seminar), Weetwood Hall Hotel, Leeds, 27 November.

Abstract

In this paper I discuss the benefits of adopting the extended social relational model of disability proposed by Thomas, which builds on the UPIAS definition, to include both structural and psycho-emotional dimensions of disability.

I will provide some examples of this latter dimension of disability and show how it can leave some disabled people feeling worthless and ashamed, whilst removing others from the social world as surely as physical barriers.

As well as looking at the ways in which the structural and psycho-emotional dimensions of disability are intertwined, I will also show how, in the light of current debates about disability and identity, this extended definition of disability also has useful implications for who is seen, and who sees themselves as disabled.

Consequently the application of an extended social model of disability allows for a more sophisticated and complete analysis of the ways in which both structural and psycho-emotional dimensions of disability are evident in the lives of people with impairments.

This extension of the social model of disability to include both the personal and public facets of disability offered me a way of making sense of more of my own experiences as a disabled person. This has led me to undertake a PhD looking at the psycho-emotional dimensions of disability and the ideas in this paper are influenced by my study to date.

This seminar paper was developed into a book chapter.