Philosophy, Disability, and Chronic Illnesses

Philosophy, Disability, and Chronic Illnesses


Several weeks back Daily Nous had a post which served as a space for philosophers  to discuss their experiences of depression and mental illness. At the time, I was asked by several people to do a like post for disability and chronic illnesses. Here it is. Discussion of the personal and professional challenges confronting those with disabilities and chronic illnesses, ways in which the behavior of others affected your experiences in this regard for better or worse, helpful and harmful institutional policies and practices, ways people in need of help should seek it, links to other helpful sites, and related topics are all welcome for discussion.

I would also urge readers to visit Discrimination and Disadvantage, a group blog focused on these issues, and PhDisabled, a blog about “what it’s like doing academia with disability and chronic illness.”

UPDATE: I am happy to list suggested links here:
– “Asking for Access after Declaring Disabled: An Interview Story
– “Invisible Disabilities Revisited” by Thomas Nadelhoffer
– “Why I Have to Say No [to a PhD Program]
– “Event Organizers: Give Access Information Up Front. Please?
– “Disabled Student Allowance & PhD-Specific Doings: A Resource for Self-Advocacy
– “On Chronic Illness, Disclosure, and Impostor Syndrome
– “Pursuing a PhD and Battling an ‘Invisible Disability’
– “Disabled PhD Students of the World Unite, Unite and Take Over
– “The Adjusted PhD: What Accommodations Work(ed) for You?

(image: detail of “Self Portrait 1997” by Chuck Close)

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alethia. m
alethia. m
6 years ago

I’d like to see the discussion furthered here in this specific post at Disability and Disadvantage. (http://philosophycommons.typepad.com/disability_and_disadvanta/2015/02/railton-and-how-we-move-forward.html)Report

Shelley Tremain
Shelley Tremain
6 years ago

I’m a feminist philosopher of disability and also disabled. Over the last several years, one of the areas that my research has concentrated on is the marginalization of philosophy of disability from philosophy, including feminist philosophy, and the virtual exclusion of disabled philosophers from the profession. My articles “Disabling Philosophy” and “Introducing Feminist Philosophy of Disability,” especially, focus on these issues. You can read them here: https://utoronto.academia.edu/ShelleyTremain. The latter article is the introduction to a special issue of _Disability Studies Quarterly_ (Fall 2013) that I guest edited whose theme was “Improving Feminist Philosophy and Theory by Taking Account of Disability.” Check it out! All of the contributions to this issue of DSQ are path-breaking and challenge many of the central claims of bioethics, epistemology, moral philosophy, metaphysics, and other areas of the discipline.Report

Tim O'Keefe
6 years ago

Another link to suggest: https://disabledphilosophers.wordpress.com/ . It’s a place for philosophers with disabilities to “declare themselves in some way.” Posts can be anonymous or not, and some caregivers of people with disabilities have also posted.Report

Neelam Sethi
Neelam Sethi
6 years ago

It would be useful to have someone list the disabilities that are of concern (should be of concern) in discussions of “philosophy and disabilities”. Often the focus is on physical disabilities–there is less discussion of cognitive disabilities esp. those that are not always easy to discern. Here I am thinking of disabilities that some undergraduate students have, and thankfully some of these get taken into consideration ( more time given for tests etc.). All this works well at the undergraduate level but what about graduate students? I’ve heard stories of faculty telling students with dyslexia to give up philosophy. What about faculty with disabilities seeking tenure?Report

Dana
Dana
6 years ago

I am a philosopher who has five congenital heart problems and Autism. At the moment I am a graduate student, but I am teaching an Introduction to Philosophy course, which is called Human Nature. My area of study is disability and personhood, specifically how can we find a more inclusive definition of personhood. I teach my course with the question of inclusion in mind, and often bring up issues involving those with disabilities. At the end of the course we do read articles at the intersection of femininity and disability, including those written by Eva Feder Kittay. Discussions can get interesting to say the least. My main area of research is phenomenology, namely the work of Martin Heidegger. I think his view of personhood provides the best basis to build a more inclusive view of personhood. I am also interested in feminism. I have an upcoming publication concerning Husserl and Autism, and am presenting my work in several conferences. Thank you for the chance to share our experiences.Report

zoran mimica
zoran mimica
6 years ago

i have a probnlem with second hand smoking…..i am independent scholar in philosophy..in vienna where i live nearly everybody smokes and as I got asthma as a child I am alergic even if they smoke in room near by and the smoke gets through the doors..here we have not a smoking ban at all….I became radical and fanatic anti-smoker and i would best put them in special town and divide smokers from non smokers….i cannot also see so many cigaree buts on the street as it probably reminds me of bullets i saw in war in former yugoslavia..on the other hand i like to associate with people…what can i do?Report

anon
anon
6 years ago

Tonight I’m reading about workplace mobbing and the problems it can cause. In the fall of 2001 I started to experienced pretty severe mobbing, which is a lot like group bullying. It was led by a dean who was angry at my rejection of his extremely sexist treatment. But he recruited my chair, who, among other things, haranged me for my dishonesty, a figment of his imagination. Mobbers will continue to portray their awful, manufactured stories.

It is now 14 years later. It turns out that stress can cause cancer, among other things. I’m working hard to recover the sense of self worth quite damaged by the experience. Despite with the cancer treatments, I finally took the dean, the department and its past and present chairs to the EEOC. The University’s representative started off by thanking me for the “brilliant and creative” contributions I had made to the university. To get so described is not too hard at a low ranked university, but they cost me a very great deal in responses from my department. Indeed, the philosophy department is maintaining it was all a sham, and I am a horrible person.

If anyone else has this sort of bad experience, I really recoomend recent books on mobbng and how to survive it. Feminstphilosophers.wordpress.com did a series on mobbing, including mobbing and cancer. You might find helpful suggestions there.Report

Shelley Tremain
Shelley Tremain
6 years ago

As a follow-up on my previous message… Melanie Yergeau’s terrific contribution to the special issue of _Disability Studies Quarterly_ that I guest edited has received honorable mention for the Kathleen Ethel Welch Outstanding Article Award, which is given every other year by the Coalition for Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition. A number of philosophers, including Bryce Huebner, have used the article, entitled “Clinically Significant Disturbance: Theorists Who Theorize Theory of Mind,” in their courses on philosophy of mind. The article is (among other things) a critique of claims that theorists and philosophers of mind make about autism and autistic people (such as, the latter lack the capacity to empathize). If you haven’t yet read Melanie’s article, you can do so here: http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/3876/3405Report

David Moseman
6 years ago

Disability Studies Quarterly
As a former physician who specialized in Geriatrics, I see disability and chronic illness as the human norm. Geriatrics focuses not a disease but on function. We expect most of the diseases to progress, and seek to maintain as much function as possible for as long as possible.
After leaving practice due to failing eyesight, I went back to school and earned an MPH. I struggle to find work because the MD gets me shunted back to the clinical.
Thus, I went out on my own and am trying to coach others with disabilities to find their way back into mainstream society. I think that to be “Disabled” is to allow you to be marginalized. We don’t let being left handed or female prevent us. So why let a Disability or Chronic Illness prevents us from our maximal participation or contribution?Report

James
6 years ago

Havi Carel and Rachel Cooper’s Health, Illness and Disease: Philosophical Essays is the product of a multidisciplinary conference organized by the newly founded Research Networks Council on Concepts of Health, Illness and Disease. Topics of study include connections between disability and chronic illness, the influence of social factors on public acceptance of illness and disability, and the phenomenology of illness, disease, and health. Accordingly, the articles in the Cooper’s volume cover a broad range of topics and areas of expertise, drawing on work from within psychology, biomedical research, disability studies, health philosophy, and the medical humanities, and should be of interest to scholars from a variety of disciplines.

The text is structured in three sections. The first, “Concepts of Health and Disease,” provides an overview of key philosophical approaches to health, disease, and illness, drawing on work from within bioethics, medical practice, and sociology. It makes repeated reference to naturalistic and normativist approaches to health and illness, and the work of Christopher Boorse in particular, questioning the feasibility of value-free accounts of illness and disease. The second section, “The Experience of Illness,” focuses primarily on the significance and role of patient-orientated analyses of medicine and health. “Illness and Society,” the final portion of the volume, analyses socio-political concerns around health, discussing cultural reactions to a variety of health-related topics, from contemporary attitudes to intersexuality to the relationship between health and beauty in Nazi society and medicine. This last section is more eclectically structured than the rest of the volume, but the breadth of topics conveys clearly the interdisciplinary potential nature of the field. Carel and Cooper introduce the collection with a detailed discussion of key questions and debates in health philosophy, and the potential methodological challenges to the field (especially from disability studies). Although at times subject-specific language can present a potential barrier to understanding, this is generally a meticulously edited and structured introduction to philosophies of health. http://ku.ac.ke/schools/humanities/index.php/departments/philosophy-religious-studiesReport