What does the social model of disability have to do with emotional and mental distress?

From Mad in Ireland: How disability is framed has hugely deleterious effects on disabled people, regardless of their impairment-based label. The medical model will always invest in “disability services” that remove agency from disabled people and build systems that segregate and deny disabled people choices of where they live and who with, the right to have families, to have jobs and to participate in society as equals. This is especially crucial when there are calls for “greater investment in services”. It is almost a given that every political party in Ireland will include a mantra about “investing in mental health services” in their pre-budget submission. But there never is a discussion about whether these “services” will be about supports that people need to live their lives as equals in an inclusive society, or whether they are out-dated medicalised “services” that deny disabled people their agency based on diagnostic criteria that medicalise the emotional and mental distress that they are experiencing.

Read the full article here.


  1. I AM independant and in my independance and my ability to make my own “free choices”, I CHOOSE to know for myself that I have AN ILLNESS which I know profoundly DISABLES me. I AM independant and so I CHOOSE my OWN life to have DEPENDANCE be a factor in it. This is MY LIFE not yours and if I want to be dependant on my dear fellow humans then I shall be and I shall feel NO IDEOLOGICAL SHAME or GUILT about my INDEPENDANT “free choice” to be what I AM which is ILL from an illness I PREFER to know is real SCHIZOPHRENIA. I want to live in a society that respects my “free choice” to define MY OWN lived experience and MY OWN sense of illness in ANY way I deem best for me. I will not be nannied by anyone else’s preference for how I must now regard myself in March, or April, or May, or June, according to the “knowledge” that OTHER PEOPLE who are NOT ME say I need to follow for my own good. If I want to “freely choose” that my suffering comes from sin or polluted carrots or trauma or possession or Jesus or a bad leaf in a rainforest or angry ancestors or the medical model or all of these combined the THIS IS MY FREE CHOICE.
    To really honour the rights of disabled people AND ALL people it is important to realize that EQUALITY does not mean we must all be THE SAME. EQUALITY means ALL of our OWN unique DIFFERENCES should be regarded as of EQUAL WORTH.
    What the author of this article seems to want is an end to treating people of DIFFERENCE differently from everyone else, an end to the way DIFFERENCE means “less than” to society. I would submit that you do not arrive at respect for difference by “rubbing out” those differences as if they do not exist. You do not arrive at INCLUSION by making everyones brain and body and personhood and aspirations IDENTICALLY the same. You arrive at INCLUSION by allowing EVERY INDIVIDUAL to be uniquely their OWN SELF even IF you do not like what they believe about their OWN SELF.

    I am disabled in MY BRAIN. I cannot write this very comment without stopping after a few sentences to gather my courage to endure horrific hallucinations that are occurring whilst I type this, and which occur round the clock, often making it IMPOSSIBLE for me to go out or cook or eat or do my laundry or sleep or bathe or chat on the phone or buy a birthday card…simple simple simple actions. Due to this SEVERE DISABILITY I am unashamed about my having to be DEPENDANT on people. Generally, out in the world, I shall not be guilt tripped or morally or ideologically or politically spoken to by anyone who does not actually HAVE my DISABILITY, MY long term ABJECT HELL of a DIFFERENCE, about how I “should” be “their version” of “independant” and be the same as everyone else in society by clocking on to a meaningful job.
    The author says that people who experience emotional or mental distress are not sick and do not suffer from an illness. Where is such CERTAINTY about how other people experience their OWN lived experience coming from? The author not inhabit my skin. The author does not KNOW ME MORE THAN I KNOW ME. The author has NEVER met ME and yet I seem to come under the auspices of the author’s notion of “the disabled” and I seem to come under the author’s notion of “people”. The author is saying that it is unfortunate that capitalism tries to turn people into productive units as citizens. Yet the author assumes that everyone wants to “participate in society”.

    What is meant by society exactly? I engage with each UNIQUELY DIFFERENT INDIVIDUAL that I encounter. Society is so often about “CONSENSUS OPINION” or “GROUP THINK”. So that rules of control can be established. RULES are sometimes essential BUT not MANY. The rule not to be abusing or bullying or cruel is really the ONLY important rule humanity needs to be strictly championing. Society though is more often the instituting of a million superfluous fussy rules that are designed TO abuse and bully and be cruel to UNIQUE INDIVIDUALS. I would rather be beautifully disabled and NOT participate in THAT “society” at all.
    The author points out that the medical model is fervid in “fixing” and “curing”. This is not just a talent of the medical moguls but most bullies anywhere and everywhere will INSIST that the crippled take up their bed and walk. Jesus knows best. Cure is “better than” sickness. The “cured” are “better nicer people” than the lazy good for nothing “sick”. By insisting that sickness and disability can be “cured” by a change in “attitude” this gives “miraculous powers” to the intellectual MIND, something humans feel anxious to uphold, as if the MIND is itself a kind of HOLY MESSIAH who comes to the rescue of the ailing body after its vulnerability to the hard knocks from life, a HIGH PRIEST MIND that can HEAL all illness by a mere “thought” rather than a mere “pill”. If you are vomitting and groaning and weeping and ill then maybe you gotta “bad attitude”. Maybe your illness is ALL YOUR FAULT. Maybe you are ill because you “think” you are ill. Maybe you are mad because you “think” you are mad. Maybe you are disabled because you “think” you are disabled. And if you can be schooled to “think properly” about your suffering then your suffering will evaporate, AS IF you just swallowed brand new antipsychotic, or a healing offering of bloody bread.
    What seems to be going on in antipsychiatry circles is the non-acceptance of the lived experience of UNIQUE INDIVIDUALS who FEEL actually ILL and really SICK from hallucinations and delusions and misery and desperation that they KNOW for THEIR OWN SELF is NOT their OWN NORMAL. It is all being repackage “for their own good” as if their hallucinations and delusions, ills that render them incapable of even eating or sleeping or bathing, are normal or will become normal if given magical tweaking not by magic pills but by the magic MIND. Soon if you are independant and freely choosing to see your own illness as a disability you may be accused of not using your JESUS magic mind to “heal” yourself. Or society, that CONSENSUS OPINION FACTORY, with its many bullying rules and many bullying jobs, will be accused of not being “inclusively” able to “rub out” the way you may prefer to regard yourself as special and your unique individual differences as utterly rare.

    I NEED looked after!
    I NEED cared for!
    I like MY FREE CHOICE to find doctors and nurses and support workers and family who are happy to do so.

    Being looked after IS NOT the same thing as being BADLY looked after. Being loved is not the same thing as being BADLY loved.
    I can ask for love as a choice.
    I can ask to be beautifully looked after as a choice.

    When a society disrespects the importance in life of being “looked after” and “cared for” and “loved” and those expressions of human need and dependancy, society becomes a regime that turns away from the sight of tent cities.

    Often it is not a fancy “cure” or “fixing” that individuals want but just acceptance of their crying. Acceptance becomes its own medicine, its own cure. But to deny that people DO feel sick and disabled flies in the face of that SYMPATHETIC acceptance that can become so healing.

    I hope you dear author do not feel I have given a tirade. I am just passionate in my own way…as you are passionate in your own way. We are very UNIQUELY DIFFERENT from each other, with none of us “better than” the other in our different perspectives. As many perspectives as possible should be brought to the table so that no consensus opinion bullies individual opinion.

    I must THANK YOU for giving me material, raw clay, to make my own creation out of what you created. My own creation is not “better than” yours. I do not “know everything”. I cannot speak for “everyone”. I “know nothing” but my own worm’s eye level view. I do not possess THE TRUTH. I do not hold “ALL WISDOM”. I am just a stray barking dog quite possibly barking up the wrong tree.

    Tell me to fuck off.

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