Commenced in January 2007
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Physical Disabilities Related Abstracts

2 The Sexuality of People with Physical Disabilities: A Qualitative Feminist Perspective of Carer's Points of View

Authors: Etsuko Sakairi


In 2016 Japan started to enforce domestic legislation in the form of the Act of Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disability, along with ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2014. However, it is not clear what kind of situations would be considered cases of discrimination in relation to issues of sexuality according to this legislation. Furthermore, in March 2016, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) made a recommendation to the Japanese government to conduct a study of the forced sterilization of women under the Eugenic Protection Act. This research is carried out against this background in which the experiences of people with disabilities have often been restricted by caregivers and family members—as evidenced by the high number of eugenics surgeries performed on people with disabilities without their consent. This research contributes to this topic by presenting voices and perspectives of key people, especially focusing on the voices of carers who are working with people with physical disabilities in a Non-Western country, Japan. Furthermore, since 90% of the research on the topic of sexuality of people with disabilities is conducted in Western countries, the voices from Non-Western countries in this regard are greatly lacking. In the part of the research presented here, the researcher has employed a feminist disability theory to understand the circumstances surrounding people with physical disabilities. She has gathered voices from 58 carers by using an on-line questionnaire (55) and by conducting face-to-face interviews (3). In this presentation, the researcher will introduce experiences and thoughts regarding sexuality and people with disabilities by using carers’ own words. One of the major findings was carers’ concern about a boundary issue. Although each carer has had unique experiences depending on their professional or personal relationship with people with physical disabilities, many of them shared some similar viewpoints. This included a concern that assisting with the meeting of some forms of sexual needs 9e.g. assisted masturbation) would result in the possibility of transgressing the boundary between the carer and the person with physical disability. Most of the carer did not have any opportunity to receive any trainings regarding to sexuality of people with disabilities. Furthermore, most of the carers conceptualized that ‘Keeping a sexual dignity of people with disabilities’ means practicing a ‘Principle of same sex assistance’. The researcher hopes that this presentation provides an opportunity for audiences to look back at their own community and to think about what sexuality of people with physical disabilities means to their carers as well as to look back at their own practice in relation to this issue.

Keywords: Sexuality, Physical Disabilities, Japan, carer

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1 Body of Dialectics: Exploring a Dynamic-Adaptational Model of Physical Self-Integrity and the Pursuit of Happiness in a Hostile World

Authors: Noam Markovitz


People with physical disabilities constitute a very large and simultaneously a diverse group of general population, as the term physical disabilities is extensive and covers a wide range of disabilities. Therefore, individuals with physical disabilities are often faced with a new, threatening and stressful reality leading possibly to a multi-crisis in their lives due to the great changes they experience in somatic, socio-economic, occupational and psychological level. The current study seeks to advance understanding of the complex adaptation to physical disabilities by expanding the dynamic-adaptational model of the pursuit of happiness in a hostile world with a new conception of physical self-integrity. Physical self-integrity incorporates an objective dimension, namely physical self-functioning (PSF), and a subjective dimension, namely physical self-concept (PSC). Both of these dimensions constitute an experience of wholeness in the individual’s identification with her or his physical body. The model guiding this work is dialectical in nature and depicts two systems in the individual’s sense of happiness: subjective well-being (SWB) and meaning in life (MIL). Both systems serve as self-adaptive agents that moderate the complementary system of the hostile-world scenario (HWS), which integrates one’s perceived threats to one’s integrity. Thus, in situations of increased HWS, the moderation may take a form of joint activity in which SWB and MIL are amplified or a form of compensation in which one system produces a stronger effect while the other system produces a weaker effect. The current study investigated PSC in relations to SWB and MIL through pleasantness and meanings that are physically or metaphorically grounded in one’s body. In parallel, PSC also relates to HWS by activating representations of inappropriateness, deformation and vulnerability. In view of possibly dialectical positions of opposing and complementary forces within the current model, the current field study that aims to explore PSC as appearing in an independent, cross-sectional, design addressing the model’s variables in a focal group of people with physical disabilities. This study delineated the participation of the PSC in the adaptational functions of SWB and MIL vis-à-vis HWS-related life adversities. The findings showed that PSC could fully complement the main variables of the pursuit of happiness in a hostile world model. The assumed dialectics in the form of a stronger relationship between SWB and MIL in the face of physical disabilities was not supported. However, it was found that when HWS increased, PSC and MIL were strongly linked, whereas PSC and SWB were weakly linked. This highlights the compensatory role of MIL. From a conceptual viewpoint, the current investigation may clarify the role of PSC as an adaptational agent of the individual’s positive health in complementary senses of bodily wholeness. Methodologically, the advantage of the current investigation is the application of an integrative, model-based approach within a specially focused design with a particular relevance to PSC. Moreover, from an applicative viewpoint, the current investigation may suggest how an innovative model may be translated to therapeutic interventions used by clinicians, counselors and practitioners in improving wellness and psychological well-being, particularly among people with physical disabilities.

Keywords: Physical Disabilities, Older Adults, physical self-concept, pursuit of happiness in a hostile-world

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