In recent years, disability studies has been driven by a model of disability which focuses on the social and economic oppression of disabled people. Although an important counterbalance to a pathologising medical model, the social model risks presenting an impoverished and disembodied view of disability, one that ignores the psychological nature of oppression and its effects.
This innovative work argues that a psychological framework of disability is an essential part of developing a more cohesive disability movement. Brian Watermeyer introduces a new, integrative approach, using psychoanalysis to tackle the problem of conceptualising psychological aspects of life with disablism. Psychoanalytic ideas are applied to social responses to impairment, making sense of discrimination in its many forms, as well as problems in disability politics and research. The perspective explores individual psychological experience, whilst retaining a rigorous critique of social forces of oppression. The argument shows how it is possible to theorise the psychological processes and impressions of discriminatory society without pathologising disadvantaged individuals.
Drawing on sociology, social anthropology, psychology and psychoanalysis - as well as clinical material - Towards a Contextual Psychology of Disablism shapes a view of disabled subjectivity which is embodied, internal, and political. Presenting a range of conceptual ideas which describe psychological dynamics and predicaments confronting disabled people in an exclusionary and prejudiced world, this volume is an important new contribution to the literature. It will interest students and researchers of disability studies, including those working within psychology, education, health and social work.
Brian Watermeyer is a clinical psychologist, and a disabled person. During the writing of this book he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Stellenbosch University. He teaches on postgraduate programmes at several South African universities, in disability studies, rehabilitation science, clinical psychology and other health science disciplines.