I don’t particularly care for the word disability as it has such negative connotations. In its purest form, disability simply means a lack of power or ability. So why is it viewed so negatively when the word inability is not? Dictionary.com’s Synonym study compares the two words as follows:

Disability, inability imply a lack of power or ability. A disability is some disqualifying deprivation or loss of power, physical or other: excused because of a physical disability: a temporary disability.

Inability is a lack of ability, usually because of an inherent lack of talent, power, etc.: inability to talk, to do well in higher mathematics.

So, is a disability really worse than an inability? True, if you are paraplegic and unable to walk independently life is rough. But it’s also rough if you’re dyslexic and can’t read menus, contracts, schedules, etc. Both involve a lack of ability and neither defines a person. Yet society often views and treats people with a disability/inability differently from other equally competent but apparently not disabled/”inabled” folk. Why? I have fellow colleagues who are quadriplegic, blind, deaf… (I’ll let you guess what my disability/inability is!) Despite our disabilities/inabilities, we are well educated, bright and capable health care providers, and none of us defines ourselves by our disabilities/inabilities. Instead, we focus on and hone the abilities we do have.

Truth be told, if you know someone well enough, you will eventually discover his/her disability/inability. All of us have them. Some are just more apparent than others. All of us can still thrive and flourish, despite the occasional setback. And all of us deserve to be treated as people, with dignity and respect. Still, I see so many people either avoiding individuals who are different than they, our outright mocking or otherwise degrading them. Their own issues are so strong that they feel the need to take them out on someone else. As a former supervisor routinely said, “It’s always easy to look tall when you’re standing on someone else.” So true, and yet, at the end of the day, you’re still you, and you still have to face your own demons and ghosts.

BBC News has an entire page devoted to disabilities, from autism to genetic disorders to dyslexia to autism… the list goes on and on.  I encourage you, whether you feel you have a disability/inability or not, whether you feel you treat others with disabilities/inabilities unfairly or not, to read the topics and stories, which change on a daily basis. It just might assist you to develop new strength to face your own adversities. Here is the link:  https://www.bbc.com/news/disability

Disclaimer: This blog is not designed to diagnose, treat, or prevent illnesses or trauma, and Dr. Emick is not responsible for your use of this educational material or its consequences. Furthermore, reading this blog does not create a doctor-patient relationship. The information contained within this blog is not intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate, or best care for any given physical or behavioral health issue, nor does it take into account the unique circumstances that define the health issues of the reader. If you have questions about the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a condition or illness, you should consult your personal health care professional. As always, consult with your personal health care professional before beginning or changing any fitness or nutrition program to make sure that it is appropriate for your needs. Dr. Emick reserves the right to modify her positions on a subject based upon new research or data as it presents.