Discrimination of the Disabled: the Need to Change in Attitude

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When people think about the United States, they think it is the best country in the world especially since we are known to be “Free”. After learning this information from class, I am starting to question why people think living here is so great. The United States has high rates of disability especially chronic pain disease and especially in minority groups. The topic of disabilities and what it means to be in this range is complex because of fundamental features. Some underlying factors originated from defining it, the social attitudes and environment, and the social distribution of it. After reading all of this information, I am not surprised by what I have found because I can understand the power manufacturers of illness have on minorities. My position on this topic is to stop discriminating against individuals with chronic pain and disabilities because it could happen to you and you should treat people how you would want to be treated.

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Social distribution is one of the reasons that rates of disability is rising in the United States. In previous decades, most people with paraplegia, pre-mature babies, persons with serious head injuries and soldiers died quickly. The problem now is that medical care is advancing in its role in wars and in life in general. For example, because of advances in body armor and medical care, far fewer US soldiers have died of wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan than in previous wars, but far more have survived with brain damage and amputated limbs. This can be associated with the idea stated in “Why I hope to die at 75” article in unit 1 of “compression morbidity”. Compression morbidity claims that with longer life, a shorter part of our lives will be spent in a decline but in reality this isn’t the case. Even with medical advances to keep people alive, individuals will still decline as they age. Chronic pain is the most common underlying reason for disability among adults between the ages of 18 and 65. Although it is a symptom rather than an illness, that should not take away from the fact that the symptoms can be detrimental to someone. Since doctors are having disagreements on how to treat someone with chronic pain, these symptoms are now being prolonged to the individual. Doctors are in disagreement because there is a stigma in America on opiates which can be overused or even underused so doctors are finding it hard to prescribe these medications to certain individuals.

As chronic pain is prolonged, it later turns into chronic illness which is a long term process that includes responding to initial symptoms, injuries or diagnoses; seeking and managing health care; and continually conceptualizing one’s future. To respond to a diagnosis, you actually have to be considered of having something wrong with you. Throughout the documentary “The Painful Truth”, doctors fail to help because of their beliefs about pain. To understand the phenomenon about pain one needs to know that it is not always visual and to tell individuals it is in their heads is denying them medical care. Another belief is one that also denies individuals medicine because of the stigma on narcotics. Numerous studies have found that doctors routinely dismiss minority patients’ reports of pain on the assumption that such patients are really seeking drugs for recreational purposes.

One important change that needs to take place is our Health Care System. It is a system that takes profit and could be potentially blamed for helping its people die. Including being denied health insurance, being automatically prescribed medicine because it is cheaper than interdisciplinary ways, or not prescribing medicine based on the assumption everybody is a drug seeker. Even if Physical therapy, strength training, meditation, and psychological treatments help people think differently about their pain which can often help they are underused. These activities align with the illness behavior model which helps interpret symptoms. In addition, the culture of medical care needs to work for the benefit of the patient as it should, and not make decisions because they can get personal incentives like the DEA. There are social barriers that separate disabled people from the rest of the world and that is another important issue that needs to be assessed. This is growing from the stereotypes about people with disabilities which are reflected and reinforced within the popular media. As a consequence, this individualizes disability by basically blaming the victim but in reality, many of us can expect to live with illness, chronic pain, and disability because of the aging of the American population and advancements in medical technology keeping the ill and disabled alive longer.

If we can change our aspects that we are invincible, we should learn how to live effectively as a person with disabilities, not just living as a disabled person trying to become nondisabled. To do this we need to create environments built to include everyone, not just people who are “capable”.

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