Understanding Fear In The Disability Community

By Andrew Pulrang: For Complete Post, Click Here…

One of the least understood aspects of life with disabilities and the texture of the disability community is fear.

Non-disabled people, who lack direct experience of life with disabilities, often assume that disabled people are, and should be, fearful — in the sense of being timid, risk averse, or weak — as a natural consequence of their disabilities. But when disabled people actually express fears tied to ableism, abusive practices, or bad public policies, they are often dismissed as over-anxious, irrational, or even delusional.

It’s one of the most common contradictions of being disabled. One day you are assumed to be fearful — the next, your actual fears are dismissed.

It’s also important to note that the fears involved here are different from incidental worries about everyday matters, or the mild background anxieties everyone has about the future. On top of these, disabled people can face unique, disability-rooted fears about existential threats. In this context, existential threat means, “a threat to a people’s existence or survival.” That is, threats to disabled peoples’ very existence — literally their lives, or more figuratively their whole way of living.

This may mean a disabled person’s fear of dying, or of some catastrophic life change. In many ways, the fear of some catastrophic life change is existential. It’s a fear of losing life as you know it.

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