Yesterday, I spent much of the day away from Twitter, and when I returned to trawl through my newsfeed I was surprised to see GP Dr Ciara Kelly advising people to see their GP if they suspect that they have arthritis. Curious. Halfway through my thought of, that’s a bit obvious, I continued on to read a news article on Rosanna Davison apparently advocating that gluten is responsible for conditions such as arthritis, autism and schizophrenia. Odd. Bread. That’s a new one.
Aside from the obvious public health concerns, the prevailing attitude in the article represented wider societal attitudes, and that is of a medical attitude towards disability. We are still searching for medical answers to a problem that is social, and now we are blaming bread. We created a world based on division, we have created the stigma of disability, and we have the power to remove it. But we have to move away from seeing it as a medical issue. That’s not to say that people can’t and shouldn’t see a doctor, but it doesn’t mean that people are sick either.
The Disability Rights Movement has worked tirelessly since the late 70’s to change people’s attitude to disability. It doesn’t mean that you are sick and have to be cured, it is a rights issue. People with disabilities have the right to be different and have the right to be equality. We built the stairs, we speak slowly to wheelchair users, and we make the policy that puts people on the outside. And if it’s not enough to not employ people with disabilities, or allow them access to support in education, what can we do? We will create a social welfare system based on what’s the best value for money. There’s a recession on you know, we all have to do our bit. If people can’t get into the building that we have built, we turn and shrug. Sure that’s the disabled for you. They need help you know.
Brace yourselves, here comes the science bit. Cyclical based policy responses are ones that occur when there is no real policy aim and are most commonly found in the mental health services. It literally goes around in circles trying to find solutions when the wrong question is being asked. E.g. water treatment, didn’t work? Ok… lets try lobotomy…. Didn’t work? Ok… lets try shock treatment…didn’t work? Ok…. Lets try medication…. Sort of working?? Ok, solution found. Until the next thing, and the one after that, and so on and so on. Rather than questioning why we are looking for answers to issues, we continue to go around in a circle trying to find answers. And the attitude underlying the article published yesterday is just one example of this, and it reflects how wider society still thinks about disability.
We need to stop and ask ourselves as a society, why we have arrived at bread as the latest explanation. Well it’s not the water, or the vaccines either. It has to be something, but it couldn’t possibly be us, could it?
Original article available here