Blog In Progress: A Third Model of Disability?

Illustration of a white 3-d stick figure working on a series of multicolored gears, with "Work in Progress" in letters underneath

I got sidetracked today because my oxygen concentrator gave out and I had to get it replaced. I had hoped to post a full piece today about an idea that occurred to me last week while reading David Perry’s article on Pope Francis’ mass focused on people with disabilities. I am working on it though. It’s about the idea of adding a third “model” to the Medical Model and Social Model, which are two of the main ways we classify different ways of thinking about disability.

The third model would be called something like the Spiritual Model, and would help explain a view of disability that focuses on a sense of deeper meaning in disability … whether traditionally religious or a more secular philosophical or New Age / self-help view. It might even help account for "inspiration porn." So far, I’ve gotten far enough to describe the three models of disability thinking as three different kinds of questions:

1. The Medical Model asks, “What’s wrong with me, and how much of it can we fix?”

2. The Social Model asks, “What’s wrong with how society, government, and organizations deal with disability, and how can we fix them?”

and adding …

3. The Spiritual Model asks, “What does disability mean, spiritually and philosophically, to me and to the rest of society?”

I would be happy to include anyone else’s thoughts and comments or thoughts on this in a more thorough blog post to come. I’d especially appreciate knowing about other people who may have already written about something like this.

Add your comments and suggestions for further reading in the comments below.