Toward an Archetypal Psychology of Disability Based on the Hephaestus Myth

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Over the last 20 years disability scholars have analyzed representations of people with disabilities as they appear in literature, myth, art, film, media, and other cultural artifacts. This research can contribute to the development of a new archetypal psychology of disability. Archetypal psychology uses mythical and poetic modes of discourse to deepen our understanding of lived experience and behavior. The stories associated with the Greek god Hephaestus are among the earliest representations of disability. His image is pervasive and spans the Western imagination from the ancient Greeks to the present. Thus, a detailed study of this myth is a logical starting point. Archetypal images from different historical eras, and disciplines, co-exist in what C.G. Jung called the "collective unconscious" where they can be compared and contrasted with each other. The Hephaestus myth helps to organize many shared images of disability into meaningful patterns that can inform our understanding of disability in contemporary culture.

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... Constructs of normalcy, presented both as archetypal and stereotypical imagery have become fossilised in myth, art, literature, theatre, film and the mass media for eons, often steered as hegemony by those in a position of power (Ebenstein, 2006). It is valuable to consider the derivation of these archetypes and stereotypes in order to comprehend the impact of these reinforced attitudes that have perpetuated society over the centuries. ...
... There is also a reference coming from Indian mythology: a poem, dated circa 4000 BC, describing how queen Vishpala, who was also a warrior, came to use an iron prosthesis after losing one of her legs in battle [4]. Other examples are easily traceable, like the first written references to prosthetic devices [5] to pictorial references about the ancient use of assistive products [6, 7]. ...
Conference Paper
With the advent of new visions of disability and inclusivity, design has to find its role in order to provide users with optimal solutions concerning devices to improve independence and participation. Although it is relatively easy to find references about the history of assistive products such as wheelchairs, prosthesis or orthoses, the task becomes more challenging when it comes to the history of daily living aids. Being the type of assistive products which have better chances to enter general consumer market, a history of these devices is needed in order to understand what were the reasons that led these objects to be marginalized and to look for new paths to lead them into mainstream market, so that stigma and cost can be reduced, while access to devices for daily living can rise. We make an attempt to draw the first sketches of what that history could look like, through a design perspective, by analyzing the development of daily living aids throughout the years, along with the fields from which they have emerged – medicine, occupational therapy and design.
Dedicating objects to the divine was a central component of both Greek and Roman religion. Some of the most conspicuous offerings were shaped like parts of the internal or external human body: so-called ‘anatomical votives’. These archaeological artefacts capture the modern imagination, recalling vividly the physical and fragile bodies of the past whilst posing interpretative challenges in the present. This volume scrutinises this distinctive dedicatory phenomenon, bringing together for the first time a range of methodologically diverse approaches which challenge traditional assumptions and simple categorisations. The chapters presented here ask new questions about what constitutes an anatomical votive, how they were used and manipulated in cultural, cultic and curative contexts and the complex role of anatomical votives in negotiations between humans and gods, the body and its disparate parts, divine and medical healing, ancient assemblages and modern collections and collectors. In seeking to re-contextualise and re-conceptualise anatomical votives this volume uniquely juxtaposes the medical with the religious, the social with the conceptual, the idea of the body in fragments with the body whole and the museum with the sanctuary, crossing the boundaries between studies of ancient religion, medicine, the body and the reception of antiquity. © 2017 selection and editorial matter, Jane Draycott and Emma-Jayne Graham.
The article considers the relationship between disability and modernist poetics, with a specific focus on the concept of physical difference in D.H. Lawrence's poetry. It traces the evolution of Lawrence's belief in the unmatched artistic potential of non-normative forms, poetic and otherwise; it expands upon the familiar story of Lawrence's own disability narrative; and, most significantly, it questions entrenched assumptions about the types of bodies that predominate in his writing. Utilizing a methodology that combines Disability Studies with a historicist approach to modernism, the article examines both Lawrence's poetry and his voluminous writings about poetry, and it proffers a range of close readings that confirm his interest in disabled bodies. When considered in aggregate, such readings suggest that Lawrence creates a proto-disability movement in verse, a movement wherein defects enable identification and social dissent; they also indicate that disability is fundamental to Lawrence's vision of literary form.
Bodies in Revolt argues that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) could humanize capitalism by turning employers into care-givers, creating an ethic of care in the workplace. Unlike other feminists, Ruth O'Brien bases her ethics not on benevolence, but rather on self-preservation. She relies on Deleuze's and Guttari's interpretation of Spinoza and Foucault's conception of corporeal resistance to show how a workplace ethic that is neither communitarian nor individualistic can be based upon the rallying cry "one for all and all for one."
This essay points to the unforeseen consequences of the "argument from design" which insisted on the symmetry and form of the material creation including human beings themselves. Because such a theory failed to account for the asymmetrical, the monstrous, and the physically deformed, observers could only conclude that such creatures were accidents, anomalies or the products of moral transgression. The general conclusion that the deformed were "sports of nature," literally God's jokes, seemingly authorized the ridicule of the disabled like Alexander Pope or William Hay, writers who felt the sting of rejection even as they endorsed the ideology of form from which such ridicule arose.
Ancient Greek images of disability permeate the Western consciousness: Homer, Teiresias, and Oedipus immediately come to mind. But The Staff of Oedipus looks at disability in the ancient world through the lens of disability studies, and reveals that our interpretations of disability in the ancient world are often skewed. These false assumptions in turn lend weight to modern-day discriminatory attitudes toward disability. Martha Rose considers a range of disabilities and the narratives surrounding them. She examines not only ancient literature, but also papyrus, skeletal material, inscriptions, sculpture, and painting, and draws upon modern work, including autobiographies of people with disabilities, medical research, and theoretical work in disability studies. Her study uncovers the realities of daily life for people with disabilities in ancient Greece, and challenges the translation of the term adunatos (unable) as "disabled," with all its modern associations. Martha Rose is Associate Professor of History, Truman State University.
Crippled Justice, the first comprehensive intellectual history of disability policy in the workplace from World War II to the present, explains why American employers and judges, despite the Americans with Disabilities Act, have been so resistant to accommodating the disabled in the workplace. Ruth O'Brien traces the origins of this resistance to the postwar disability policies inspired by physicians and psychoanalysts that were based on the notion that disabled people should accommodate society rather than having society accommodate them. O'Brien shows how the remnants of postwar cultural values bogged down the rights-oriented policy in the 1970s and how they continue to permeate judicial interpretations of provisions under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In effect, O'Brien argues, these decisions have created a lose/lose situation for the very people the act was meant to protect. Covering developments up to the present, Crippled Justice is an eye-opening story of government officials and influential experts, and how our legislative and judicial institutions have responded to them.
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