The Psychosocial Aspects of Adapting to Traumatic Non-life-threatening Disability

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Historical attitudes and treatment of persons with disabilities has not been kind. This population has endured institutionalization, torture, sterilization, and forcible euthanasia over the centuries. Presently, persons with disabilities are thought to be helpless, incapable, pitied, and invisible in society, treated as second-class citizens. Statistically, persons with disabilities are highly likely to be unemployed and on government assistance, less likely to be socially engaged in the community, and still deal with physical barriers despite legislation encouraging equal access. Despite second-class citizenry, the majority of people with disabilities generally report having a good quality of life and life satisfaction. Those who sustain a traumatic injury typically grieve the loss of function and lifestyle, but generally transition to a state of acceptance and adaptation within a year. The Criminal Code of Canada was recently amended to permit a family physician the power to grant persons with non-life-threatening disabilities to be euthanized if they so desire without such safeguards as a mandated psychological evaluation. A minority of persons with disabilities living under dismal circumstances in poverty due to lack of government resources may indeed opt for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) not due to their disability, but rather lack of governmental or related support to ensure a better quality of life. These issues are explored in this chapter.


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