Disability In The Age Of Disability

871 Words4 Pages
Throughout history, society has attempted to define where disability belongs within the social order based upon societal interpretation of disability, political context, and economic context. Holistically, the view and stigma of disability altered through three distinct phases. The earliest thinkers subscribed to a spiritual model in which disability was believed to be some form of moral punishment. The onset of the Age of Enlightenment, rather, valued empiricism and experimentation above supernatural superstition, giving way to the modern interpretation of disability in which society’s institutional roadblocks, negative attitudes, and societal exclusion are the factors which truly disable some individuals. Specifically, this paper will examine the facets of the first and second phases as well as the logistics of the shift between them and their effects. Holistically, Enlightenment thinking shifted the view of disability from moral to medical in nature, laying the foundation for modern day special educational values. (Atkins and Hayman, 168; Hughes and Paterson, 325-340) The first lens through which society and intellectuals viewed disability prevailed from pre-historic times until the Age of Enlightenment and largely associated disability with sin and moral punishment. Neolithic tribes, presumably thriving between 7000 BC and 1700 BC, believed disability to be caused by evil spirits. Adopting a similar mindset to 19th century medical professionals who endorsed
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