In recent years, disability studies has been driven by a model of disability which focuses on the social and economic oppression of disabled people. Although an important counterbalance to a pathologising medical model, the social model risks presenting an impoverished and disembodied view of disability, one that ignores the psychological nature of oppression and its effects.

This innovative work argues that a psychological framework of disability is an essential part of developing a more cohesive disability movement. Brian Watermeyer introduces a new, integrative approach, using psychoanalysis to tackle the problem of conceptualising psychological aspects of life with disablism. Psychoanalytic ideas are applied to social responses to impairment, making sense of discrimination in its many forms, as well as problems in disability politics and research. The perspective explores individual psychological experience, whilst retaining a rigorous critique of social forces of oppression. The argument shows how it is possible to theorise the psychological processes and impressions of discriminatory society without pathologising disadvantaged individuals.

Drawing on sociology, social anthropology, psychology and psychoanalysis - as well as clinical material - Towards a Contextual Psychology of Disablism shapes a view of disabled subjectivity which is embodied, internal, and political. Presenting a range of conceptual ideas which describe psychological dynamics and predicaments confronting disabled people in an exclusionary and prejudiced world, this volume is an important new contribution to the literature. It will interest students and researchers of disability studies, including those working within psychology, education, health and social work.

chapter |13 pages


chapter |24 pages

Theorising Disability

The Body, Ideology and Society

chapter |41 pages

Psychoanalysis and Disability Studies

An Unlikely Alliance

chapter |41 pages

Exploring the Cultural Shaping of Socialisation

The Psychological Positioning of Disabled Lives

chapter |18 pages

Oppression, Psychology and Change

Initial Conceptual Reflections

chapter |8 pages

Conceptualising the Psychological Predicaments of Disablism

Disability, Silence and Trauma

chapter |10 pages

Disability and Loss

chapter |5 pages

Concluding Reflections