On developing an intersubjective frame for intellectual disability work

  • Capri C
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PURPOSE: This paper aims to show how an intersubjective view on disablist discourse and practice might craft an egalitarian space from which expert voices on living and working with intellectual impairment could emerge, and attempts to further bridge psychoanalytic and disability studies. METHOD: The paper shares the view on dispelling the notion that intellectually impaired individuals cannot benefit from psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and speaks to the slow progression of research on intellectual disability psychotherapies. It supports disability researchers' emphasis on moving studies from a third-person reporting style toward counter-hegemonic texts, and explores a way of forefronting impaired individuals' expertise. RESULTS: The discussion shows how subjectivities of both psychotherapist and intellectually impaired patient can intersect - thereby raising previously subdued voices to enable social action for the expression of dissatisfaction, equal (moral) rights, individuality and freedom from disablist practices. CONCLUSION: Intersubjective work could offer a new way of understanding psychotherapy and research with intellectually disabled individuals differing in degree and manner of impairment; address effects of subaltern voice, marginalisation, disempowerment and defense by equalising therapist-patient power (im)balances; and by virtue of its scientific literature base, provide a contextual clinical account of disability psychotherapy and research as anti-discriminatory political and social processes. Implications for Rehabilitation Psychoanalytic intersubjectivity implies that there can be no analytic neutrality unaffected by the therapist's subjectivity, and that ongoing experiences of one's subjectivity are deeply influenced by the subjectivities of those with whom one is interacting. Cautious and thoroughly considered self-disclosure on the part of the therapist in experiencing the patient becomes a permissible therapeutic intervention. In intersubjective research texts, the experience of disability can ultimately be voiced by the real experts living with intellectual impairment in an often disabling world.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Intellectual disability
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Psychotherapy
  • Research

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  • Charlotte Capri

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