'My son has lost his dignity': dignity of persons with profound Intellectual and multiple disabilities

E. Olsman, Appolonia M. Nieuwenhuijse, Dick L. Willems

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Abstract

The objective of this study is to describe and evaluate understandings of dignity of persons with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities. Intrinsic dignity cannot be lost and is inherent to being a human. Also, dignity is the extent to which these persons have enough positive experiences (individual dignity), have dignity in their relationships with familiar others (relational dignity), or with unknown others (societal dignity). While intrinsic dignity sometimes fails to include experiences of these persons and their family members, the other understandings are gradual, which means that these persons can lose their dignity. The understandings express a concern: the life of the person with severe disabilities is, respectively, worth respecting, living, sharing and caring about. We conclude that they can have dignity and that, in case of disagreement, it is important to clarify which dignity is meant and to make explicit the concerns at stake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalDisability and Society
VolumeOnline
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2022

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