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The Distance Between Difference and Deviation

There are many models which have been developed over time to explain illness. Some of these models describe illness as biologically-identified (as pathological). I have recently completed a lengthy dissertation on a description of mental illness known as “neurodiversity”. On several, previous occasions I have written about this subject: an emerging conception of mental illness, characterized not from a purely socially-constructed perspective, but from the perspective of valuing difference.

Identity and Neurodiversity

I'd like to discuss, briefly, to what extent neurodiverse conditions affect conceptions of identity. For those of you familiar with the “Neurodiversity” movement, you'll be aware of the debate that self-advocacy has stirred in the world of mental well-being. The movement takes its origin from the development of an online community through which some autists began advocating on behalf of themselves for recognition of their conditions as natural variations or ways of being, rather than deficits or impairments.

Media and Mental Illness

            I recently read a blog post from the Huffington Post by a Ms. Natasha Tracy (1). Her post centered around a claim that portrayals of people with neurodiverse conditions in the media tends to focus on overly polarized characteristics which, she claims, have the effect of attributing a sort of “superpower” to the characters with these conditions. She makes note of several characters from popular television in series which I am not familiar with: “Black Box” and “Perception”.