Compassion, pity and physical disability: The value of difference in heterogeneous relations

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Abstract

Feelings of compassion and pity for physical disability are analyzed by assessing abnormal bodies in the West and interpretations of the sufferings of the Other. The State will target this body as well as wartime and industrial mutilations. In the nineteenth century, tolerance, compassion and body equality were required, becoming imbued with hierarchizing representations and practices of bodily perfection submitting deviations to intervention. Such ambiguities mobilize sentiments at the confluence of the individual/collective and the natural/sociocultural and can transmute into virtue or technology of power. The exegesis of suffering may result in generalizations and platitudes whereas valorizing the singular and occult sides of experience favors universalization of human dignity in heterogeneous relations.

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Barsaglini, R. A., & Biato, E. C. L. (2015). Compassion, pity and physical disability: The value of difference in heterogeneous relations. Historia, Ciencias, Saude - Manguinhos, 22(3), 781–796. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0104-59702015000300007

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