Reeve, D. (2011) ‘From geek to theory chick: Developing understanding(s) of psycho-emotional disablism’, paper presented at Postgraduate disability research: A critical space to engage, Warwick University, 13 July (keynote).
In this paper I reflect on the intellectual journey taken during the time I
studied for my PhD – complete with missed turnings and numerous
mechanical breakdowns. I then discuss the impact that several different
theorists have had on the way in which I have explored the concept of psychoemotional
disablism, showing the rich insights which interdisciplinary thinking
can bring. Finally I end by identifying some of the questions which face those
of us in critical disability studies if our work is to remain relevant to the
everyday lives of disabled people.
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.