ability and disability in the parker case response

Respond to at least two colleagues by supporting or refuting your colleagues’ analysis of disability as a social construct or your colleagues’ analysis of the intersectionalities in the Parker case and how they marginalize and impact Stephanie. 1 paragraph minimum.

Colleague 1: Jasmine

Disability is constructed by external factors in the environment (Gilson & DePoy, 2002). According to Adams et. al, “people develop discriminatory attitudes and behaviors towards people with disabilities based on cultural values expressed by institutions that include medical, educational and the media.” The stigma surrounding disability is perpetuated by stereotypes, invisibility, lack of support and inclusiveness (Adams et. al, 2018). These external factors make disability a social construct as society uses the disability to define a person rather than seeing them as a person who is living with a disability.

In the Parker family case Stephanie is a 48-year-old woman who lives with her elderly mother. Stephanie moved back into her mother’s apartment after a failed relationship. Stephanie works part-time at the super market and receives social security disability benefits. Stephanie was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 16 after her first suicide attempt, when her boyfriend broke up with her. Stephanie does not have a history of drug and alcohol treatment but abused marijuana and alcohol as a teen. Stephanie attends a mental health drop-in center twice a week to socialize and receives outpatient psychiatric treatment. She is currently on several medications to treat anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. Stephanie has experienced suicidal ideation and was recently hospitalized for a depressive episode.

Stephanie is bipolar and lacks healthy coping mechanisms, problem solving skills and is not able to live independently. These aspects of Stephanie’s personality in addition to bipolar disorder can make it challenging to navigate in society because at some point Stephanie will experience a barrier(s) which can trigger her into another depressive or suicidal episode. These intersections could further marginalize Stephanie because she may shut down and not try to take the necessary steps forward to improve her living situation due to her condition and characteristics. Such marginalization will cause Stephanie to be frustrated and lack trust in systems. This will also affect her ability to use self-determination and be an active agent with professionals because she may begin to feel incapable of making adequate decisions for herself.


Adams, M., Blumenfeld, W. J., Castaneda, C., Catalano, D. C. J., DeJong, K., Hackman, H. W,… Zuniga, X. (Eds.). (2018). Readings for diversity and social justice (4th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge Press.

Gilson, S. F., & DePoy, E. (2002). Theoretical approaches to disability content in social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 38(1), 153-165.

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen S. M. (Eds.). (2014). Sessions: Case histories. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. [Vital Source e-reader].

Colleague 2: Rachel

A social construct is typically a man-made definition of something that is then adopted by the society at large. In terms of a disability I think we feel the need to categorize and label disabilities. This can have both positive and negative effects. In one sense it allows us to do research such that we can better the lives of those affected by the disability. Although this also puts a stigma on those categorized into this disability. No matter how much success they may be able to achieve, they will still be haunted by the label placed on thim. These labels can change our perception of the disability because it causes us to think narrowly in terms of what people are able to do and accomplish.

Stephanie’s mental illness intersects with other characteristics of her identity in several ways. Because of her mental illness, she feels that she cannot live successfully by herself. Also, she is only working part time. Despite happening 32 years ago, Stephanie talks as if her suicide was in the recent past. Stephanie seems to think that she does not have many options in her current situation. If she were to live on her own it was suggested that she find a “supportive apartment complex” (Plumer, 2014). I think, as sometimes happens in similar situations, the people involved in Stephanie’s case may forget that she may have an opinion and choice in the situation. At times, people tend to feel the need to make choices for the individual.

Maysoon Zayid stated that “Disability is as visual as race…The disabled are the largest minority in the world and are the most misrepresented” (Maysoon Zayid, 2013). Also, Bryan says “Illness or disability often places the individual, and sometimes the family, in a state of dependency (Readings for Diversity and Social Work, 2018). Those with a disability are often marginalized by the social constructs that we as a society place on them. Because of this, I think social workers must work harder to show that they care when working with those that have experienced marginalization. The social worker can advocate for Stephanie and ensure that she is able to access needed resources.

Adams et. Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (2018). New York, NY. Routledge Press

Zayid, M. (2013, December). I Got 99 Problems…Palsy is Just One. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/maysoon_zayid_i_got_99_problems_palsy_is_just_one/up-next#t-705369

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen S. M. (Eds.). (2014). Sessions: Case histories. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing. “The Parker Family”


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