Thursday, July 2, 2009

Disability and Personality

Disability and Personality
Nathan D. Turner

The recent discussions on disability identity have encouraged me to contemplate the influence of disability on personality. I'm sure everyone, especially those with physical disabilities, ponders how different life could be without said disability. Many people born with permanent disabilities, I believe, are able to efficiently overcome adversity. Conversely, individuals sustaining disabilities later in life tend to have difficulty coping with similar circumstances.

Society tries to answer this question by arguing those with physical disabilities “don't know any other experience” and therefore coping is easier. Not having a “normal experience”, however difficult it may be, has reaped numerous benefits. Without my experiences as a person with a disability, I still would have a desire to excel and a meticulous personality. Ingredients are perfect to create future investment bankers! The notion of me working as an investment banker is not very appealing. As someone with cerebral palsy, I have taken those attributes and developed a passion for advocacy. I can pursue a career path I love (law and public policy) while making a difference.

Unfortunately, not everyone with a disability shares my optimism! It is very disheartening for me when someone uses a disability as a reason not to pursue their dreams. Not enough people know about or utilize Centers for Independent Living, Vocational Rehabilitation or other pertinent resources to achieve their goals.

I apologize for going off on a tangent, but ultimately people will disabilities are people first. Personality traits may be slightly influenced by disability, but are not determining factors. My experiences at Wright State University validate this fact. I will address those in depth next week.

Happy Independence Day,

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