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Discussion of the Mairs and Church Readings

Posted on January 30, 2018

At first, I thought that the use of the word “cripple” to me sounds rather offensive and more demeaning than the use of the words “disabled”. But after reading Nancy Mairs’ essay on this topic, her explanations for preferring to be referred to as a “cripple” made me truly see her point of view on this subject. She sees the word as being very accurate in describing his specific condition, “…I have lost the full use of my limbs.”(Mairs 46) She views the word “disabled” however as “…suggesting any incapacity, physical or mental.”(Mairs 46) Some may not see any difference in these terms or view them as having much importance, but the psychological effect that these two terms have on an individual can be either demoralizing or motivating. I don’t believe that those who are directly affected by these terms want to be seen as one with any incapacity, or being put at a significant disadvantage compared to someone else.

In Paige Terrien Church’s essay, she discussed the negative stigma that medicine puts on disabilities and how it discriminates in a way against those who have to live with them. She believes that her medical record for example, “misses features that truly define me: physician, wife, mother, sister, daughter, mentor, and friend.”(Church 939) I agree with her on this statement and I can understand her perspective on this because she feels that people may judge her personality based on what her medical record contains. She would prefer to be views as a mother or a physician, rather than one who has had 11 surgeries and has several different medical problems. At the same time, does not see a disability as making her any less human than any of us in the audience. In the last paragraph, she stated that “Disability, capable of tremendous opportunity, is not simple. Like most things in life, and medicine, disability is sharp, painful, humbling, as well as tremendous, giving, awe-inspiring. It is human.” (Church 939)


  1. Mairin Kelly

    I agree a lot with your post, especially when you were talking about how Mairs views the words “crippled” and “disabled” differently and how, as a reader it’s an eye opening moment as to how those with disabilities may prefer to be referred to in a different fashion. The way you then carry it over to your point about Church is really cool too.

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Nathaniel Tchangou

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