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.
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.
Reeve, D. (2011) ‘Psycho-emotional disablism in the lives of people experiencing mental distress’, paper presented at Disability or Distress symposium, Lancaster University, 15-16 November.
This paper will explore what the concept of psycho-emotional disablism can bring to discussions about the relevance (or not) that the social model of disability has for those people who experience mental distress. Questions to be considered will include:
- Does the recognition of disablism in both its structural and psycho-emotional forms make the traditional ‘social model of disability’ more relevant to people experiencing mental distress?
- How does psycho-emotional disablism help understandings of the impact of prejudice and hate crime, both of which have higher rates of occurrence for people experiencing mental distress than other groups of disabled people?
- How might psycho-emotional disablism intertwine with experiences of mental distress?
- What relevance might this have for debates to date about psycho-emotional disablism and impairment/impairment effects more generally within disability studies?
This work-in-progress will show the potential benefits to be gained by using a more nuanced definition of disablism which explicitly includes forms of oppression that operate at both the public and private level. This discussion will also contribute to ongoing theoretical debates about the complex and blurred relationship(s) between disablism and impairment within disability studies which are exemplified by the experiences of people living with mental distress.
This seminar paper was developed into 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.
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.