Friday, September 15, 2006


The first, and decidedly more trivial (though not non-trivial, I think) point, is that suffering from a problem such as chronic pain, arthritis, and so on, raises interesting questions for the sufferer about self-definition and self-perception.  There is no doubt that many of my symptoms have interfered with major life activities, and continue to do so.  And I have sought a special parking permit, to spare me long walks that would otherwise be excruciating.  But beyond this, I have never filled out a form identifying myself as "disabled" (a question that law schools, at least, ask all the time), and would be loath to do so.  I consider myself fortunate not to be worse off, am all too aware of the universe of more serious diseases I could have had, and would hate to adopt a label that I generally associate with people facing far more significant hurdles than I do.  But neither can I reasonably consider myself healthy!  All this suggests that people with what I would consider intermediate illnesses, like chronic pain, face interesting questions about how they should classify themselves.  In large measure, I am sure, the unwillingness to classify such illnesses as disabilities stems not only from humility and a fear of hubris, but also from a hopeful, if misguided, urge to see oneself as dealing with a temporary, if painful, problem.

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