FIVE The psychoanalytical approach to disability

Simone Korff Sausse

Until recently, disabled people had seemed to have eluded psychoanalytical investigation and treatment, with very few psychoanalysts taking an interest in them. Why was this? The first reason is the general tendency to misunderstand the psychic life of subjects affected by a disability. Also, as objects of study, analyses, and commentary, the idea that they may have self-knowledge is rarely entertained. Little interest is taken in their subjectivity. Faced with the suffering induced by the disability, we prefer to think that the person is not aware of their condition and imagine that they do not have the intellectual capabilities to think out their own situation. As a result of this, it is thought that they cannot benefit from psychotherapy. This resistance derives from the dual nature of the disability that, on the one hand, is irremediable and, on the other, is inscribed in organicity, both insurmountable obstacles for conventional psychoanalysis, as they counter the ideal of the therapeutic vocation. As a result, few psychoanalytical research works have been devoted to these fields of investigation. The impact of a traumatised and traumatic reality, whose mesmerising effect causes a sideration or rejection, produces a blockage of the thinking processes. Clinical work on disability is neglected by psychoanalysts, hurt as they are in their narcissism by these patients who arouse an "uncanny strangeness" and produce the effect of a broken mirror (Korff Sausse, 1996) within which we fear to recognise ourselves.

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