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What emotional feeling do you experience when you think of the word sex?
What emotional feelings do you experience when you think of the words disabled, crippled, gimp?
What emotional experiences do you have when you combine these two concepts in your fantasies? Do the concepts of sex, sexuality, and intimacy;" become any less acceptable? Is there a paradox here?
Sex is a natural function. All people are sexual: the young and the old, the able bodied and the disabled, men and women. Therefore, sexuality in the presence of disability is a central concern in the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. The presence of a physical disability, of course, may produce a physical loss of a sexual function, for example, genital sensation, orgasm, or ejaculation. However, genital sexual function may not be the largest part of an individual's sexual health and well being. If the health professional is not prepared for the pervasiveness of sexual health or the subtle differences of how some disabilities can affect sexual health, the patient or client may not receive needed help.
We attempt to socialize all people to recognize the normative values and behaviors of our culture. Families give their children an understanding of family values and the positive and negative principles upon which the family operates. Certainly, family. values would arise around the concept of "imperfection". If an individual is perceived to be imperfect because of crippled or amputated body parts, inappropriate social gestures (arm flailing, irregular spastic movements, drooling, or grimacing), use of mobility apparatus (wheelchairs), or impaired speech, the cultural reaction is often repulsion. The result is that the individual is frequently regarded as asexual.
Sexual health is important to everyone. Concerns regarding appearance, grooming and hygiene, attractiveness and desirability are apparent in our daily behavior. These features are a large part of our personhood and our sexual socialization as mature men and women.
Awareness of one's own attitudes toward body image is necessary if one is to be sensitive about the so called imperfections of such conspicuous disabilities as cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, or multiple sclerosis. Sensitivity will not only increase one's awareness of the social values attached to disability but will also help one avoid contributing negativism to an already stressful situation. The disenfranchisement experienced by one who is perceived as imperfect may result in social rejection and thus add a disabling stigma to an existing physical disability.
Another important issue relating sexual health to disability is the attitude of the disabled person regarding his or her own sexuality. This attitude will, of course, be a function of early sexual knowledge and experiences, especially if the disability had its onset before sex role development began. Since self esteem and body image are important issues for able-bodied persons, they certainly will have a significant impact on how a disabled person sees him or herself as a sexual being. Will the disabled person be able to relate to others as a sexual person, desirous of and desired for intimate relationships? The presence of a disability will thus influence one's sense of masculinity or femininity, not only through the physical changes resulting from a disability, but also by influencing opportunities to have relationships with other desirable men and women.
The following are some of the issues which affect the self esteem of a handicapped person. They should be addressed in the context of family life and environment of the individual.
What is the family like? What are the community expectations? What role did the individual have in the family, community, and in the geographical or regional culture?
Does the person view him or herself as attractive?
Did the person's role in the family, work place or community require an ability to influence or advise other people? Has the ability been jeopardized or limited?
About The Author
David Crawford is the CEO and owner of a Male Enhancement Products company known as Male Enhancement Group which is dedicated to researching and comparing male enhancement products in order to determine which male enhancement product is safer and more effective than other products on the market. Copyright 2011 David Crawford of Male Enhancement Products This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached.
- Disability and Intimacy Part I
- Disability and Intimacy Part II
- Adult Onset Disability Part I
- Sex Is A Natural Function
- Childhood Onset Disability