Sheryl Holt, Ph.D., is a career physical therapist who is currently completing her PhD in rehabilitation science while working as an assistant professor in the doctor of physical therapy program at Wheeling Jesuit University. She has lived with hemiplegic cerebral palsy while serving children with disability for over 30 years. Her manuscript, “What the medical model can learn from the case of the colorblind painter: A disability perspective" is featured in Volume 9, Issue 4 of the Review of Disability Studies. She gives us a chance to understand the journey of a painter, called Mr. I, and how his journey resulted in a transformation in his work and in his life. The following interview with Dr. Holt gives her the opportunity to expound on some of the ideas in her manuscript.
What role does passion play in Mr. I’s decision to continue to paint and in his ability to move past the difficulty of his condition?
|Done 4 weeks after the accident|
|Done just before the accident|
How does the story of Mr. I, the color blind painter, inspire you personally?
|Mr. I's "leaden" world|
What lesson can be taken from the story of Mr. I?
|Done 2 months after the accident|
He seeks truth within his own understandings; he is resourceful in building his evidence. He is patient on his path.
Your study examines common assumptions of the medical model and challenges the presumption of the normal curve. What is the most important finding or interpretation that excites you the most?
|Done two years after the accident|
In a nutshell, I reject a human normal curve that fails to accommodate all human experience beneath it. We humans are not numbers or statistics and where we fall in a statistical model is irrelevant to our value and our purposes in life. Getting to an understanding of the expanses of human experience as an international society has potential to change our language, our outlook, and our capacity to accept and appreciate others, different from ourselves. There is nothing normal about a normal curve. It is a fiction. I suppose that without the social mechanisms of norming, certain aspects of life would feel unmanageable, especially at the level of organizations, institutions, and cultures. Norms serve these structures with prediction and expectation, sometimes with seemingly necessary dictates to ensure what is needed for survival of the many. However, the onus is on humans everywhere to recognize when the normal curve does not serve outliers. This does not speak to validity or valuation. It is important to discern that especially within the medical model. Meeting people where they are will often be far from the canopy of the normal curve. The courage to scatter those held hostage by the curve would enlarge creativity, perceptions, and potentials. If you ask Mr. I, I am guessing he’d say that the risk is worth calculating. Like him, when you are ready to start pushing the bounds of normal, the journey will be your own. I agree with Mr. I, that any other journey becomes meaningless, repugnant, and distant to what makes you who you are. It doesn’t have to make life better, just truer to the sojourner.