The current issue of Medical Humanities is guest-edited by Luna Dolezal and Barry Lyons and focuses on ‘Shame, Stigma and Medicine’.
In her open access article, ‘The Medical Reshaping of Disabled Bodies as a Response to Stigma and a Route to Normality,’ Janice McLaughlin reports on discussions with young disabled people that emerged as part of a research project into their experiences and attitudes toward their bodies as they approach adulthood, a crucial stage of transition in their lives. Concerned with the problems that might arise as a consequence of public health advertising and social pressure, McLaughlin investigates whether stigma has any role to play in encouraging young disabled people to keep fit and healthy in order to shape their bodies to fit with conceptions of the normal. In her audio introduction to her article, McLaughlin describes the motivations that led her to explore the connections between shame, stigma and the reshaping of bodies. She raises concern over the potential negative consequences of public health communications that might inadvertently lead to social judgments and stigma toward disabled people, and calls for a greater attention to the context in which these public health communications are received.
Janice McLaughlin is Professor of Sociology at Newcastle University.