culture and illness

Doyle Saylor djsaylor at
Fri Dec 18 07:10:43 PST 1998

Hello everyone,

Alec Ramsdell writes: Marta, do you think the medical model of addiction, with all its trappings of the essentialized disease model, and with its possible subsuming of other conditions, is in step with the way disability as a category is kept flexible for the sake of economic and political interests, as you write about in your book?

Doyle Alec could you clarify this question a bit? What do you mean Marta keeps the category of disability flexible for the sake of economic and political interests?

Doyle The best way to think about disability is not about how the professional medical, lawyer, accountants for corporate interests decide, but that people who have a disability have rights of their own. Just as any other worker might. The purpose for having independent political parties, and representation is to have a voice for our rights that counters those interests tied to profit. One can't fight these issues on an individual basis.

Doyle As to brain implants or any other invasive technique of the body such as surgery, and injection of drugs, the point is whether or not such things work as they are advertised. Addiction is bound up with the human need to form habits. So if one implanted something to counter the formation of habits in people in the sense of controlling addictive behaviors, one would have to understand a lot more than is known about what habit formation means in terms of human minds. In a general way an invasive technique may have good consequences for instance with respect to Parkinsonism where some sort of replacement cell therapy may alleviate the die off of neurons that cause Parkinsonism. Any proposal to implant something in someone's head to control behavior would have to have fundamental or essential knowledge of how the mind works. The moral foundations of our society want to find cures for behavior, but moralism camouflages profit interests. So one would have to suspect any sort of invasive technique founded upon a moral interest in controlling behaviors deemed the immoral. The way to break the hold of such moral answers to disability is to confront the moralists and expose their charletanism. Of course as an individual that is very hard to get the word out. So the conundrum is to find strength through social organization. regards, Doyle

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