How to develop a phenomenological model of disability

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  • Kristian Møller Moltke Martiny
During recent decades various researchers from health and social sciences have been debating what it means for a person to be disabled. A rather overlooked approach has developed alongside this debate, primarily inspired by the philosophical tradition called phenomenology. This paper develops a phenomenological model of disability by arguing for a different methodological and conceptual framework from that used by the existing phenomenological approach. The existing approach is developed from the phenomenology of illness, but the paper illustrates how the case of congenital disabilities, looking at the congenital disorder called cerebral palsy (CP), presents a fundamental problem for the approach. In order to understand such congenital cases as CP, the experience of disability is described as being gradually different from, rather than a disruption of, the experience of being abled, and it is argued that the experience of disability is complex and dynamically influenced by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Different experiential aspects of disability— pre-reflective, attuned and reflective aspects—are described, demonstrating that the experience of disability comes in different degrees. Overall, this paper contributes to the debates about disability by further describing the personal aspects and experience of persons living with disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine, Healthcare and Philosophy
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)553-565
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Experience of disability , Embodiment, Illness, Normality, Motor intentionality, Phenomenology

ID: 172406183