Locating self within the lived

experience of disability

-- 30|03|2021 - Tuesday 

The webinar was on “Locating the self within the lived experience of disability”. The Zoom session was on March 30, 2021, at 7:00pm. The speaker for the webinar was Richa Sharma, a mental health professional and founder and psychosocial consultant of ‘The Dialectical Mind’.

Sign language interpreters (NISH): Dipika D, Abhishek P V

Richa Sharma

Mental health professional,

M.Phil. (Psychiatric Social Work)

It is essential for a person to have his/her identity. Identity crisis and notions related to Who am I ? is a universal concept and it affects everyone. Hence the concept of identity and self is crucial in the context of disability. For example, using a wheelchair might overshadow the other characteristics and identity of that person. This is a serious social problem and devastating to that person. The concept of self has three components: self-image, self-esteem, and ideal self. There is no such thing as good or bad in one's image. Self-esteem on the other hand is value loaded and can be damaged at any time. There are certain environmental factors which can dreadfully affect one's self-esteem. The third is how we want our future to be or the self that we aspire to be is the ideal self. We often choose role models to create an ideal self.

The concept of self is still evolving in short cognitive dissonance. Every behavior is learned. Children learn from their parents through observations and a behavior that comes through observation can later become a habit. Body image has a great influence on how we see ourselves. Peers, social media influencers, and toys often profoundly affect thoughts about the body. It is through such influences that children learn what is beautiful and what is not. Spoken and unspoken things are learned through experience. For example, a person with disability might experience neglect when there is no ramp for them in public space. Besides the exclusion from social spaces, they also face stigma. The Stigma later becomes the inner voice of those who are confronted by it. Thus it becomes an obstacle for daily living. Gender inequality along with this stigma can adversely affect the mental health of persons with disabilities. Society often tends to look at the labels rather than the skills and potential of the person.

The medical model of disability is person-centered which views the cause of the disability as the person itself, which is injudicious. But the social model of disability views the boundary of disability will be narrow when we make inclusive spaces around us.

Kubler-Ross grief cycle postulates that those experiencing grief go through a series of five emotions: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This 5 stages cycle is commonly seen in person who have acquired a disability in their life time. There is a misconception that the functional role of body and organ had a great role in defining ones beauty.Today there are a lot of aids and appliances are available for people with disabilities to perform the functional role of the body. So there is diversity in that beauty. 

For the Complete webinar report    click here

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Credit: Asiaville Malayalam