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Ability, Disability, and Erasure

Disability refers to the situation when the abilities of the individual are limited by his or her mental or physical disturbances. People with disabilities are frequently being oppressed even in modern society, not to mention the earlier one. This oppression is called ableism and signifies that disabled people are being excluded from the average life of the community (Ostiguy-Finneran & Peters, 2018). Ostiguy-Finneran and Peters (2018) mention that ableism is expressed on two levels: individual, observed in the discrimination of disabled in medicine, media, and education, and collective, illustrated by the reinforcement specific policies regarding such people.

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Historically, persons with varying abilities were marginalized. This marginalization stems from the religious premise that disability was given as a penalty of sin (Ostiguy-Finneran & Peters, 2018). In the early Western societies, medics believed that the goal of medicine was to get rid of handicaps and fix the body, not to make the life of an individual more comfortable (Ostiguy-Finneran & Peters, 2018). It could be suggested that individuals with varying abilities were marginalized since ordinary people could not comprehend why this happened and, therefore, were afraid of something that they could not easily explain and cure.

In modern society, people with disabilities still face numerous difficulties and, thus, the role of social workers in support of these people could not be underestimated. The case of Valerie provided by Plummer et al. (2014) shows that social workers help their clients to stop blaming themselves for the problems that they experience because of their limited abilities. More precisely, apart from other troubles, Valerie suffered from abusive relations with her ex-husband who made her believe that he is the only person for whom she is attractive. By the end of therapy, Valerie managed to eradicate contact with the ex-husband and acquire new acquaintances. This case signifies that the social worker made Valerie more self-confident and explained to her that the disability is not the reason to endure humiliation.

Ability and Disability in the Parker Case

The social construction of disability implies that the society via the institutions creates social expectations on health and, thus, disability is constructed around these expectations. In other words, people have specific views on what it means to be a healthy person, and everything beyond is regarded as a disability (Watsky, 2018). The problem with that way of thinking is that people are guided by the appearance of the disabled and do not bother with their emotional stance and feelings (Watsky, 2018). Therefore, the social construction of disability seems to limit people’s rights with mental or physical issues to coexist in the same society with the “normal” individuals. People with varying abilities obtain identity according to the expectations of their illnesses, not their true selves.

The case of Sara and Stephanie Parker, described by Plummer et al. (2014), discusses the story of mother and daughter. Stephanie, the daughter, is diagnosed with bipolar disorder that determines her life and the way social workers and medics address her. This is particularly evident from the conflict situation between Sara and Stephanie. Confrontation apparated since the daughter was confused by the living conditions in her apartments, and the mother denied the necessity to change the situation and throw away numerous useless items. Social workers doubted Stephanie’s ability to live alone and recommended that she go to the special center because of her bipolar disorder. This means that she was viewed as a person that is unable to take care of herself. At the same time, Plummer et al. (2014) depict Stephanie as a neat person who worries about personal hygiene and the house’s cleanness. Besides, Stephanie got a promotion in the shop where she has been working. Nevertheless, for the social workers, she, first of all, was a person with bipolar disorder who cannot live independently and be responsible for her own life.

The case of Stephanie Parker illustrates that the social construction of disability affects how disabled people are treated by the rest of society. Kingsley (2018) writes that people with disabilities are often by default are regarded as unable, silly, and helpless. This way, social construction deprives these people of the ability to live the same life as other people and develop their hidden talents and skills.

Analysis of the intersectionalities in the Parker case

As it has been said above, Stephanie is characterized primarily by her mental illness regardless of other factors. Despite being bipolar, in the conflict with Sara, her mother, she behaved as a responsible person who could take care of herself and her relatives. Stephanie also got promoted and, thus, had financial security for herself. Undoubtedly, the illness could not be ignored since, in the period of depression, she was needed to be hospitalized. However, at the rest of the time, she acted as an ordinary member of society. Still, the illness marginalizes Stephanie’s place in society since she is controlled by social services that make decisions concerning her living conditions. From the viewpoint of society, mental disorders make an individual unable to self-determination and doom his or her to be treated as unequal to healthy people.

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Kingsley, J. (2018). What Id tell that doctor. In M. Adams, W. J., Blumenfeld, C. Castaneda, D. C. J. Catalano, K. DeJong, H. W, Hackman, X. Zuniga (Eds.). (2018). Readings for diversity and social justice (4th ed.). Routledge Press.

Ostiguy-Finneran, B., & Peters, L. M. (2018). Ableism. In M. Adams, W. J., Blumenfeld, C. Castaneda, D. C. J. Catalano, K. DeJong, H. W, Hackman, X. Zuniga (Eds.). (2018). Readings for diversity and social justice (4th ed.). Routledge Press.

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen S. M. (Eds.). (2014). Social work case studies: Foundation year. Laureate International Universities Publishing.

Watsky, J. (2018). On the spectrum, looking out. In M. Adams, W. J., Blumenfeld, C. Castaneda, D. C. J. Catalano, K. DeJong, H. W, Hackman, X. Zuniga (Eds.). (2018). Readings for diversity and social justice (4th ed.). Routledge Press.

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