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American Annals of the Deaf

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Damned for Their Difference: The Cultural Construction of Deaf People as Disabled

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1. Water shock therapies, electric shocks, and the revolving swing chair “capable of rotating a patient up to one hundred times a minute, which ultimately caused gushing of blood from ears and nose and unconsciousness” (Porter 1987, 221) were very much in vogue as the nineteenth century dawned. William Battie was a prestigious “mad-doctor” of the mid-eighteenth century who was instrumental in making the role of the mad-doctor respectable. He “rose to become President of the Royal College of Physicians” (Porter 1987, 167). An admirer of Locke, Battie advocated a “reasoned therapeutic optimism” in place of drugs, stressing the need for strict, humane management and declaring that “the Regimen in this is perhaps more important than any distemper” (quoted in Porter 1987, 207).

2. A clear example of the international approach to learning was the Quaker surgeon John Coakley Lettsom (1744–1815), who studied in London and on the Continent, graduated with a doctor of medicine from Leyden in 1769, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1771.

3. See the section in chapter 5 entitled “Sign Language, the Clinical Gaze, and the Consolidation of L’Epée’s Mission in France.”

4. The phrase “the iron cage of bureaucracy” is taken from the work of the German sociologist Max Weber, in particular, from the conclusion to his The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Weber 1985). Weber closely analyzed the various forms of rational administration associated with the rise of capitalism in the West and pointed to the difficulties in balancing the rational and creative aspects of leadership in the development of a just society. Anthony Giddens remains the most perceptive interpreter of Weber’s sociology (see, in particular, Weber 1985, “Introduction”; Giddens 1971, 1972).

5. See Bourdieu (1984).

6. Worth noting here is the way the word “retard” is used colloquially today in day-to-day conversation and all too frequently in the media to refer to anyone perceived of as “disabled.” A friend recalls being at a party while in a wheelchair after a car accident and overhearing someone inquiring, “Who’s the retard?”

7. Note that although many people in Britain or America might look on Australia as a distant antipodean outpost of Britain, developments in Australia were influenced not only by developments in Britain but also by those in America and elsewhere in the Western world. Looking to Australian case studies is not intended to divert attention away from developments “in the West” but to provide pertinent examples of wider trends and developments. An imperial orientation is one that sees history as needing to focus on the center rather than on the periphery.

8. See, for example, Winzer (1993, 266–67) for the United States.

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