An excess or a loss

In an additive conception, the disability is represented as being an element that has penetrated the body or the spirit: an undesirable excess requiring an exeresis; a pathogenic excrescence to be removed. Something the person bears as a burden ("bearing a disability"). What counts most here are notions of excess. The very story of the word "handicap" is interesting in this respect. Once applied to the world of horse racing, it took on the meaning of an extra weight some horses have to carry to even the betting stakes. This additive conception also informs

the historical and cultural basis of Christianity, for which the individual is born in a state of sin (original sin) and must seek to be relieved of this burden by the intercession of a third party (Christ, or the Lamb of God), of whom the biblical text states that he taketh away the sin of the world" (Laplantine & Thomas, 1986, p. 113, translated for this edn)

Under a subtractive conception, the disability is "something less" that has been taken away or has escaped from the person ("loss of reason", or, slang, "losing one's marbles"). It refers to the inability or the privation of being able to compensate the deficit, the deficiency to be made good, or the lack that has to be made up for. These are notions of prevailing absence, suppression, loss, hollowness, or emptiness and alienation. More popular expressions such as "off one's head" and "round the bend" echo such perceptions of disorientation and disarticulation. It was precisely this negative vision that the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health came in to redress by replacing the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps in May 2011.1 Based on a bio-psycho-social conception, it seeks to coherently synthesise biological, individual, educational, and social perspectives.

 
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