Seven Wheelchairs: A Life beyond Polio

27 10 2008

From the author of a new worthwhile book: Seven Wheelchairs: A Life beyond Polio, recently released by The University of Iowa Press.

The memoir is a history — an American tale — of my fifty year wheelchair journey after being struck by both bulbar and lumbar poliomyelitis after a vaccine accident in 1959. The Press says Seven Wheelchairs gives “readers the unromantic truth about life in a wheelchair, he escapes stereotypes about people with disabilities and moves toward a place where every individual is irreplaceable.”

Other reviewers have called Seven Wheelchairs “sardonic and blunt,” “a compelling account,” and “powerful and poetic.”

You can find it through your favorite online bookseller if you want to check it out.

Disability and Architecture

8 10 2008

David Gissen has an amazing post about his relationship as a mobilly disabled person to buildings, especially Paul Rudolph’s brand of “heroic architecture.”

L.M. Montgomery Suffered from Depression and Took Her Own Life

22 09 2008

Having grown up with her novels, this revelation, while sad is encouraging in the way her granddaughter meant it be:

I have come to feel very strongly that the stigma surrounding mental illness will be forever upon us as a society until we sweep away the misconception that depression happens to other people, not us – and most certainly not to our heroes and icons.

The Economy Takes a Mental Toll

17 09 2008

NPR reported today on the mental cost of the recent economic woes in America. While we all know that a tight pocketbook or out-of-control credit card debt can cause anxiety, psychiatrists discuss how depression, addiction, eating disorders, and a host of other maladies can be triggered by monetary stress.  And, for those who may lose their jobs during this time of belt-tightening, health insurance that covers the expense for treating these illnesses will also become harder to get. Do the newly unemployed pay exorbitant COBRA fees? What do they do if their income does not qualify them for Medicaid? Will they seek treatment at all if their options seem limited?

The Largest Mental Institution in the United States.

14 08 2008

NPR has spoken to inmates and employees of the Los Angeles county jail about the fact that one of the two “twin towers” (both are built on the idea of Jeremy Bentham’s idea of the panopticon) is occupied by the mentally ill. The Los Angeles County Sheriff is dedicated to giving prisoners the care they need, but he wishes that the closing of insane asylums in the late 70s (often horribly maintained and run) had not meant turning many of the mentally ill into homeless persons. The gap created by the closing of these public hospitals has yet to be filled, and in the interim, our prisons and streets continue to be populated by people who could be functioning members of society if they were getting the support they needed.

“Tropic Thunder” to Be Boycotted by Disability Rights Groups

11 08 2008

The movie consistently uses the word “retard” and even had an advertising slogan that read, “Once upon a time there was a retard.” The site using that slogan has since changed, but as reported in The New York TImes, the movie makes see the word use as irony akin to other humor in the movie, such as Robert Downey Jr. donning black face. Having only seen the trailer, my first sense is that there is irony in Downey’s portrayal and the racial stereotyping that is used deliberately. However, “retard” seems to be used at will just because it’s a slightly funny work–to Ben Stiller and crew.

Is Being an Albino a Disability?

22 07 2008

In Tanzania people who are albinos are being killed for their body parts. Witch doctors claim they can be used to make the purchaser of said parts rich. The BBC has reported that over 30 people have been killed in Tanzania so far this year. The last was a seventh-month-old baby. In Tanzania, being an albino can lead to ostracism by family and community. There is a center for cancer treatment in Dar Es Salaam that treats albinos’ medical conditions caused by their lack of pigment, and many have left their rural homes to congregate there. However, this practice brings to mind other cultures’ fetishes with the “abnormal” and the ways in can become mysticism, even if this fetishism is often not so violent. Does the extent to which people will go to obtain albino body parts point a finger at all who have both gawked at, been drawn to, and used those who are abnormal? What does this particular instance of a culture’s belief system say about the dangers of over-emphasizing divergence from the norm?