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Navigating the relational psychic economy of disability: The case of M

Watermeyer, Brian and Hunt, Xanthe and Swartz, Leslie and Rohleder, Poul (2019) 'Navigating the relational psychic economy of disability: The case of M.' Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 29 (5). 515 - 531. ISSN 1048-1885

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This paper presents a theoretically-informed psychosocial analysis of the case of M, a physically disabled man from South Africa. We use M’s account as a platform from which to consider projection, melancholic suspension and grief, as these are played out in the negotiation of dependency in relationships for disabled people. Making use of a case study methodology, we examine the various strategies through which M manages those disability stereotypes which are ascribed to him, creating a picture of how ident ity is negotiated in the face of interpersonal dependency as well as disablist prejudice. A central proposition is that, for M, upholding relationships which bring much - needed assistance means caring for the emotional lives of his carers, in a manner which leaves him more vulnerable to internalizing identity insults, and less able to resist his own oppression. Employing a psychoanalytic frame, we suggest that the ‘melancholic suspension’ which some disabled people may be subject to, may lead to the necessity to ‘take on’ certain projections, in the process of accessing much-needed care. As shall be seen, M maneuvers creatively through this relational realm by engaging in trade-offs between positive identity and physical need, employing strategies which include self-deprecation, the performance of mastery, playing with gender, and humor. With these and other techniques, he navigates the relational and psychic economy of his dependency.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Disability, relational psychology, dependency, melancholic suspension
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0500 Psychoanalysis
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2018 13:04
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2021 01:00

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