Looking at Disability Through a Different Lens: Reinterpreting Disability Images in Line with Positive Psychology



The media annals for the last 75 years form a veritable social history with values, attitudes, habits, and prejudices evolving over this time span. Movies have been especially powerful when portraying stereotypes, especially those of stigmatized groups including people with disabilities. If we look at films conceived after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA; 1990), we find that people with disabilities are now portrayed in cameo and background roles that do not lead to inspiration as they did previously (e.g., Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker and Don in Butterflies Are Free). Older films reveal an interesting phenomenon, that is, many of the films discussed in this chapter do have the positive psychology approach of offering a balanced portrayal of a character overcoming obstacles in an uplifting or inspirational manner. Reasons for this seeming paradox are discussed; whereas the law now protects the civil rights of those with disabilities, these people seem to have lost their interest as major dramatic personae.


Traumatic Brain Injury Positive Psychology Walk Away Rehabilitation Psychologist Sport Accident 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyJohn Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew YorkUSA

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