Attitudes and behavior towards disabled, by Guenther Cloerkes
Experimental empirical tests have shown that immediate reactions to visual disability is characterized by extensive and largely uncontrollable agitation or nervosity.
If you are interested in what, generally and by and large, physically different people can do to others, simply by being there and by exposing themselves, keep reading.
Original text by Guenther Cloerkes. Excerpted translation based on original text by Guenther Cloerkes but not a full or always direct translation - by Wolf Schweitzer., partly by hand, partly by use of online translation tools with manual post-tool-editing -- (C) Copyright Guenther Cloerkes 1985.
- In place of an introduction: Kneifen gilt nicht - You cannot dodge this
- Pathologic structure of interactions with physically different people
- Isolation through avoidance of interaction
- Typical forms of social reaction towards physically different people
- Institutional representatives and their behaviour
In place of an introduction: Kneifen gilt nicht - You cannot dodge this
Wie ich meinen ersten Patienten mit Amputation behandelt habe, war haarsträubend. Er kam wegen Schulter-Nacken-Beschwerden zur Massage, die Oberarmamputation spielte an sich keine Rolle mehr. Keine Stumpfpflege, kein Wickeln. Doch es wäre angebracht gewesen, den amputierten Arm in die Funktions- massage einzubinden. Allerdings konnte ich den Stumpf partout nicht ansehen – und schon gar nicht anfassen. Ich schämte mich furchtbar und hoffte inständig, nach den sechs Behandlungen nicht so schnell wieder mit Amputationen konfrontiert zu sein. Ein Praktikum später, Reha-Klinik, Montag früh. Ich sollte eine neue Patientin übernehmen. Die ältere Dame erwartete mich in ihrem Zimmer mit verweinten Augen. „Alle sagen, dass ich ins Pflegeheim muss. Kann ich wirklich nie mehr nach Hause?“, fragte sie mich und schlug die Bettdecke zurück. Oberschenkelamputation. Und nicht nur das. Die Dame hatte seit ihrem 20. Lebensjahr Rheumatoide Arthritis. Mit herkömmlichen Gehhilfen werden wir nicht weit kommen, schoss es mir durch den Kopf. Die Hände würden nie ihr Gewicht tragen oder die Griffe umfassen können. Aber das war ohnehin fünf Schritte zu weit gedacht. Wir standen ganz am Anfang. Erst einmal hieß es: Narbenpflege und in Kornähren wickeln, wovon ich keine Ahnung hatte. Aber zusammen mit meiner Patientin arbeitete ich mich in die Welt der Wickeltechniken, Prothesen und Liner ein. Denn schon in den ersten Minuten war klar: Kneifen ist nicht. Dieses Mal kann ich den Stumpf nicht einfach ignorieren. Die Frau baut auf mich, sie will wieder in die eigenen vier Wände. Und nach sieben Wochen waren wir so weit. Sie konnte heim. Was für meine Patientin die Rückkehr in die eigene Wohnung war, war für Kalle Hüser (ab Seite 30) das Skateboard- und Rohschuhfahren. Mit zehn jahren bekam er wegen eines Osteosarkoms am Femur eine Umkehrplastik nach Borggreve, wobei sein gesunder Unterschenkel um 180 Grad gedreht an das verkürzte Bein geplattet wurde. Fünf jahre später stand er wieder auf dem Skateboard und den Rollschuhen. Ziele und der eiserne Wille, sie zu erreichen, bringen eben einiges ins Rollen … sogar bei einer Therapeutin mit anfänglichen Berührungsängsten. Herzlichst, Ihre Kathrin Hage - - Text from: Hage, Kathrin. "Kneifen ist nicht." Physiopraxis 14, Nr. 02 (2016): 3-3. DOI: 10.1055/s-0042-102156
The way I treated my first patient for amputation was hair-raising. He came for massage because of shoulder and neck discomfort, the upper arm amputation did not matter anymore. No stump care, no wrapping. But it would have been appropriate to incorporate the amputated arm into the functional massage. However, I could not look at the stump - and certainly could not touch it. I was terribly ashamed and hoped I would not soon be faced with amputations again after the six treatments. An internship later, rehab clinic, Monday morning. I should take a new patient. The elderly lady was waiting for me in her room with tear-stained eyes. "Everyone says I have to go to the nursing home. Can I really never go home? "She asked me and pulled back the covers. Amputation. And not only that. The lady had rheumatoid arthritis since she was 20 years old. With conventional walking aids, we will not get very far, it shot through my head. The hands would never be able to carry their weight or grasp the handles. But that was five steps too far anyway. We were at the beginning. First of all it was called: scar care and wrap in corn, of which I had no idea. But together with my patient, I worked in the world of wrapping techniques, dentures and liners. Because in the first few minutes it was clear: there is no way I can dodge this. This time, I can not just ignore the stump. The woman is relying on me, she wants to be back in her own four walls. And after seven weeks we were ready. She was able to go home. What was the return to my own apartment for my patient was the skateboard and raw shoe driving for Kalle Hüser (article from page 30 onwards). At the age of ten, he got a reverse plastic surgery to Borggreve due to an osteosarcoma on the femur, with his healthy lower leg twisted 180 degrees to his shortened leg. Five years later he was back on the skateboard and roller skates. Goals and the iron will to reach them are starting to get things going ... even with a therapist with initial reservations. Most of all, yours, Kathrin Hage - - Text from: Hage, Kathrin. "Kneifen ist nicht." Physiopraxis 14, Nr. 02 (2016): 3-3. DOI: 10.1055/s-0042-102156
From this heart wrenching confession [link, text in original German and translated English above] we realize that repulsion is active and intact in non-disabled people even in the medical field. Massage therapists never ever touch my damaged arm. Physiotherapists never treated my hosed arm. They avoided coming near my stump, even though I never had any skin rashes or injuries, no wounds, no infections, nothing immediately gory or dangerous looking. Clean skin, a scar maybe, but nothing else. Also, the authors of the physiotherapy article suggested to perform an interview with me, which - understandably, read below - never came to fruition. Shame and repulsion usually win.
So this most certainly is a subject we need to approach.
Pathologic structure of interactions with physically different people
Experimental empirical tests have shown that immediate reactions to visual disability is characterized by extensive and largely uncontrollable agitation or nervosity.
That means the non-disabled person risks to get irritated, nervous or agitated to a high degree and that that person might end up being largely out of their control. So their immediate reaction is characterized by loss of control combined with a type of excited irritation.
Equally, freezing of motor response can happen, as well as freezing of facial expressions or gestures. Physiological reactions may not classify as 'behavior'. However there is no non-behavior: also remaining silent and staring is a significant reaction.
Further reading: Krappmann, Lothar: Soziologische Dimensionen der Identität. Strukturelle Bedingungen für die Teilnahme an Interaktionsprozessen. Stuttgart 1969. - Krappmann, Lothar: Neuere Rollenkonzepte als Erklärungsmöglichkeit für Sozialisationsprozesse. In: Familienerziehung, Sozialschicht und Schulerfolg, hg. v. der b:e Redaktion, Weinheim 1971, 161-183.
Emotional agitation, fear, stress et cetera can be measured through skin resistance measurement. Significant stress was measured when non-disabled people saw visibly disabled partners for interaction. Heart rate and significant stress have an immense significance on affect. And affective state has an immense social significance.
Aversion, repulsion (Ekel), physical nausea as immediate affective reaction to bodily defects are well known. These strong reactions are regarded as not amenable to influence. In other words the people that suffer these reactions are not guilty or responsible for them. These subconscious mechanisms are also termed 'aesthetic-sexual aversion'.
Reading: Siller, Jerome, Abram Chipman, Linda T. Ferguson und Donald H. Vann: Attitudes of the non-disabled toward the physically disabled. Studies in reactions to disability XI. New York (New York U., School of Education) 1967 (a).
Aversion reaction related quotes contain the following:
- "There was this lump of flesh, a stump, that twitched. Awful!"
- "I cannot look at this. When I see this I have to throw up!"
- Bodily sensation: "I feel a cold ripple run down my back"
- Bodily sensation: "I get a strange feeling in my stomach"
- When seeing children with dysmelia: "I cannot keep eating - I am nauseated".
Also, people with decades of intensive professional exposure to disabled people admitted to have feelings such as nausea, repulsion, aversion or insecurity. It seems that we are dealing with 'originary' reactions of a fundamental type impact against physically different people.
Sudden confrontation can cause a shock for some non disabled people. The extent of conflicting emotions can paralyze a non-disabled person.
"This kind of situationally inappropriate emotion is so swift and overwhelming as to approximate a state of shock, leaving them expressively naked, so to speak". The staring at visibly disabled people is described to happen under shock: "I could not help but stare at these arm stumps. Like a rabbit that is stared at by a snake and that is paralyzed by that, I felt paralyzed and had to stare at these arm stumps all the time".
Even open aggression can happen as part of sudden reactions of startled non-disabled people, even though these are reported as rather rare when facing visibly disabled people.That may be because our society rigidly defines visibly disabled people as 'equal' and 'need protection'. The non-disabled person is socially constrained and under enormous pressure to conform to these societal standards. That means they have to 'pull themselves together', they must perform the act of treating the situations in the most acceptable way possible despite their own nervous system running ape shit, despite their own nervous system going into red alert, despite their own nervous system basically abandoning them in terms of support, emotions and control. "Regardless of the degree of aversion felt toward the disabled, the non-disabled are normatively not permitted to show these negative feelings in any way, and their fear of making a verbal or nonverbal slip - indicating their emotions renders the interaction quite formal and rigid" (Safilios-Rothschild, 1970, 129).
Insecurity, rigidity, formal code, stress, fear, deep levels of discomfort dominate interactions of disabled and non-disabled people. The interactions are almost all restricted to such rigid and fear driven exchanges - they are "pathological", as Goffman summarizes. Normal social interactions become virtually impossible as long as no productive way to relax tension is found.
Goffman's 'irrelevance rule' requires partners for interactions to allow for a whole and intact perception of the respective bodies - Further reading: Goffman, Erving: Encounters. Two studies in the sociology of interaction. Indianapolis 1961.The mere visual disability itself is the reason that interactions with physically disabled people can be very difficult for a non-disabled person. "A certain generality and diffuseness in the attentions that parties are expected to direct to each other. Even if only superficially, one is expected to remain oriented to the whole person and to avoid the expression of a precipitous or fixed concern with any single attribute of his, however noteworthy or laudable it may be" (Davis, 1961, 123).
Due to the social imperative of the irrelevance rule, any person is required to direct their total attention to the whole other person - yet all of their mind craves to examine closely all that which particularly and individually causes that visible difference. Depending on the nature and extent of the visible disability it can monopolize a part or all of the attention of the non-disabled person, and that is believed to be an enormous source of stress. Such stress and insecurities are the consequence.
Reaction to visible handicap can be tactless and rude. More often, visible handicap is treated as non-existent (which can be hard if it is very obvious). At any rate, the elevated stress level and the overwhelmed senses of the non-disabled interaction partner force that person to narrow down their range of expression. Only the declared subject of the interaction thus will be addressed (normally, subjects can change). Non-disabled people will exhibit discrete but well known and typical signs of discomfort and embarrassment: colloquialisms are avoided or stopped at the last word, constant staring to other parts of the room than the direction of the disabled person, high pitched stressed out voices faking a relaxed mood, obsessive chatting that overplays nervousness, being embarrassingly serious when instead humor or stupid remarks would be well in order (also read Goffman about this).
Research results showed this:
- Non-disabled people interacting with visibly disabled people feel tension. Not a bit of it, but a lot. There is a lot of tension. Their behavior is more rigid and less variable than interactions among non-disabled people. Interactions had a tendency to be terminated earlier. The physical distance chosen was bigger.
- There is an initial opinion distortion: non-disabled people tended to describe disabled people more favorably initially than they ought to given the person and given the interaction. With increasing exposure, more adequate attitudes toward disabled people resulted.
- Disabled people may tend to reciprocate tense, fearful and stressed attitudes and responses when interacting with nondisabled individuals that, themselves, exhibit tenseness and similar symptoms of distress. They may also want to end such an interaction rather quickly. So, disabled people tend to add to the pathology of social interactions.
- Those of the disabled people that felt most uneasy tend to be the ones that comply to certain norms the most: one norm requires stereotypical behavior that is expected by non-disabled people. Another norm requires disabled people to be grateful and favor religion as subject over sports or external appearances.
Ninety percent (90%) of people interviewed for this agreed that "many people do not have any idea how to act towards a disabled person". The degree of insecurity is very high inasmuch as interactions between disabled and non-disabled people are concerned. "When we encounter a blind man, the rules we apply to him are extremely vague ... Our lack of direct experience makes the situation more uncertain".
This situation is thought to be caused by lack of direct experience when dealing with disabled people.
Also, our societal behavioral norms are insufficient in that they do not cover disability. Lack of norms means lack of guidance for interaction. A non-disabled person stumbling into an interaction with a disabled person suddenly is confronted with a lack of rules and that can be deeply distressing.
While behavior towards disabled people is not guided by societal norms or rules, we do have norms about attitude. Unfortunately two major attitude norms are contradicting each other which adds to the normative ambiguity. This can make it very hard for the non-disabled person to find their way:
- On one hand, socialization will value disability as a negative attribute. We learn that disability generally is a bad thing.
- Officially however, disability is seen as disadvantage that requires our support. A non-disabled person that rejects a disabled person and treats them with distance lacks official societal justification.
Left alone by contradicting norms regarding attitude and by missing norms regarding behavior, non-disabled people face distress and insecurity alone. They go through feelings of ambivalence, fear and not knowing how to act appropriately. Typically at least part of this very distressing circumstance is ultimately blamed on the disabled person.
Typically, people with dysmelia or right arm amputees may not be able to shake hands in a fashion that is expected as normal handshake in society. When the non-disabled person thoughtlessly extends their hand a stressful situation is likely to occur. "These (disabled) people feel rejected and they then do not know how to go about that, what to say, or what to do".
A reporter about to interview a Contergan child once said "I am insecure. Shall I offer to shake hands? How do you greet someone with no arms? I was relieved that the first greeting was done without everyone shaking hands. But the eerie feeling remains".
"One of the things we do upon meeting someone for the first time is to impute to him a familiar social identity ... From the identity we have imputed to him, we anticipate what his tastes and interests will be, the kinds of attitudes he will have, and how he is likely to behave. We search for clues to help us to classify the Person as a type of individual, and we then apply norms of conduct associated with "his type" in order to guide us in our subsequent interaction with him. Unless we can do this quickly and accurately, we are at a loss as to how to proceed, and experience the situation as embarrassing and stressful".
The lack of a clear social identity pushes the disability label - mostly "just" an attribute - to dominate the social labeling. An almost obsessive feel comes from constantly defining people by "the blind", "the amputees", "the paralyzed".
Due to the fact that amputees or other people with disabilities have no established well defined roles, some authors doubt there will ever be stable reaction patterns or attitudes towards disabled people. Like, at all. Even a clearly defined (but stable) negative attitude that society would then employ througout encounters with disabled people might be better in terms of establishing a future social role - but it is the absence of any stability, the totally dominating ambivalence of attitudes of non disabled people towards the handicapped that poses the greatest difficulty.
Thus, lacking clear social rules that may render interaction with them less stressful, disabled people invariably face social deprivation, discrimination and isolation.
Psychological tests with non-disabled people resulted in a real need to soak in the visual novelty without social sanctioning. When confronted with images of visibly disfigured women or men, they stared significantly longer when they felt unobserved. So in absence of intruders, non-disabled people seem to feel an urge to excessively stare at non-standard bodies whereas the same was not the case once someone else was present to ensure that the social norm - to not stare at other people - was observed.
In another experiment where non-disabled people were set up to directly interact with disfigured or disabled people, researchers found that non-disabled people felt massively more at ease after having been able to excessively stare at images of the respective disabled or disfigured interview partners beforehand. Ambivalence and discomfort was a lot less when they had undisturbed and excessive time to visually soak in how the disabled person looked like.
The whole situation is then subject to personality traits of the non-disabled - but also disabled - persons involved in a particular encounter. The more intolerant a person is to ambivalence, the faster they will run into a problem.
Isolation through avoidance of interaction
We all tend to employ avoidance, excuses, to escape from threatening discomfort of social situations, whenever we see a possibility. Disabled people represent a real risk of discomfort to others, and thus they are prime motors to set these avoidance mechanisms in motion.
A first clue of a person trying to distance themselves is avoidance of eye contact. To not look a disabled person in order to avoid any even remote possibility of contact is an everyday practice of non-disabled people and an everyday experience that disabled people make.
Isolation within the peer group
Disabled children in school classes have an absent (zero) to massively increased chance of being shut out from others' social circles. While investigating school classes does not yield reliable information other than that, talking to parents seems more relevant: there, interaction problems of some degree of severity are reported by 83,5% of parents with disabled children, and 53,8% estimate the level of interaction problems as marked.
In school, non disabled children are known to be very reluctant to agree to interaction proposals by children in a wheelchair.
Other research shows that the degree of isolation that disabled children experience quite strongly depends on social and personality traits, as well as type of disability and its visibility. This tendency increases towards puberty.
Extent of isolation
Corresponding to stigma theory, not only the disabled person will be avoided but also their close relatives, family and friends. "With a disabled child, they invite you once but never again" (from 'Unterprivilegiert', 1973) .
Asking non disabled people about how to best behave when dealing with the parents in presence of their physically handicapped child, 34% stated it as best to totally deny the handicap ("to act as if one would not perceive it"). Some 6% said they would not let their own children play with the handicapped child. Some 60% agreed to helping personally, such as trying to put the child into a car or so. And 14% offered to express their sympathies.
Parents of children with dysmelia - in another study - neither had good contact to other parents nor did they have good contact to other parents of dysmelia children. The parents that were asked however said they did not expect much from networking with other parents of children with the same condition. In other words the stigmatized families appeared to resign. At the same time, these parents were quite adamant about drawing a line and separating their child (with dysmelia) from other mentally or physically handicapped children.
The chance to get married is lower for the disabled community; however, the facts regarding this are cited to be possibly misleading. One author sees a fear of having the partnership to be burdened by disability more than a marked dislike of disabled people as a reason for that.
Exclusion from a high degree of personal intimacy is accounted more in terms of inferred dependency of the disabled, inability to care for day-to-day needs, and limits on sharing important recreational activities than in terms of personal feelings of aversion. Fear of social stigmata which might be attached to associating oneself with a handicapped person also receives frequent mention.
Tendencies to avoid interactions
The main reason that people with disabilities are socially isolated is the tendency of non-disabled people to avoid them whenever possible.
One research group, Farina et al., made this particularly clear in a series of experiments.
Test participants (assumedly non-disabled, heterosexual, white, male as "normal") preferred to work alone in a task-oriented experiment, rather than with disabled interaction partners. When the interaction partner was labelled as a person different from the "normal", the test participants interacted significantly less with their stigmatized interaction partner.
When a blind person would go shopping accompanied by a non disabled person to buy a shirt, another experiment (Gowman, 1957) showed that sales clerks interacted with the blind customer only in half of the shopping situations. The sales clarks then said as an excuse that this was because the customer could not see the shirt.
The communication towards the disabled person is disturbed profoundly, and restriction to address the disabled customer is not specific for blind people. Klee (1974) reports that "I sat in a bus. The other passengers stand, they talk about me [in German: über mir (talk above me), über mich (they talk about me)]. They never talk to me. They ask: how old is he? What condition does he have? Can he talk?".
The disabled person experiences "itself" (i.e., himself, herself) "as an object". She/he is usually not addressed directly. One asks their accompanying person. They feel trapped in only being able to address the non-disabled person accompanying the disabled person. "While I buy a pair of socks in the men's department, the sales person only talks to my female accompaniment, and they assume it is her that pays. After the purchase is made, they carelessly throw the packed up socks into my lap. Like I was a push-cart in a self serve super market. " (KIee, 1976).
Individual exceptions where single people try to be nice, integrating, positive are counteracted by social peer pressure that pressurises those people to stop.
The parents of a boy named U.W. report that the milk woman understood the parents to be under enormous pressure every day. So she would drop the milk not at the curb but bring it all the way to the house. Then, neighbours agitated against the milk woman until she stopped bringing milk to the door / house of the family with the disabled boy.
A teacher had proposed that a certaing G. K. was admitted to public school despite a disability. The other teachers decided to wait and see, while being negative about it. G. K. acted normal and his first time was uneventful. Then, his mother (Ms. K) had to be admitted to hospital for a few weeks, and during that time, when he was without mother for the first time in his life, at school, he used fresh first snow to pour snow over some teacher's cars, and he said when other children would have fun this was his type of fun, and, as it had been the oil crisis, cars were not good to drive. The effect was that all teachers hacked around on that one teacher that had brought G.K. to that school, until she advised it was best that G.K. leave that school.
Disabled people appear to evoke an ambivalence in the non-disabled person: between discomfort of meeting a disabled person, sympathy or empathy, the feeling to be pressured to help somehow without knowing how, and, feeling of guilt.
When a young woman with an eye patch (to cover a missing eye), and, in the same setup, a young woman without visible handicap, asked 121 housewives, to complete a written interview form, the return of the forms was 69% when the young women had an eye patch but only 40% when the young woman did not appear disabled. When compliance does not involve additional face-to-face contact, a stigmatized person is more likely to get compliance than a nonstigmatized person. However, when compliance does involve the non-different in future interaction with the different person, there is no such effect (Doob and Ecker).
The dominant effect is to avoid direct interaction with the physically different person in the future.
Discomfort and unresolved tension of ambivalence cause non-disabled people to want to avoid direct interaction with disabled people. This behavior as that causes guilt in the non-disabled people. Social interactions are normally rated and scored; when a non-disabled person interacts with a disabled person, that does not "count", so there is no score to be made socially, as any interaction or relationship is not "rewarding" when one follows a cynical social utilitarism. Therefore, non-disabled persons tend to avoid relationships to disabled people. As that is not acceptable from a moral view, non-disabled people will feel quite guilty because of that, which increases discomfort further. On the other hand, this aspect massively stigmatises disabled people.
From avoiding interaction to discrimination
Meeting and interacting with physically disabled people is typically perceived as stressful and fraught with negative emotions as outlined so far. Thus, non-disabled people will go at lengths to reduce direct interactions with them. They may go about it in a direct if not rough fashion.
The father of a child with dysmelia was told by his work colleagues that "such children do not belong in the public". They were also concerned (as they were associates working for a shop) that clients might not come because of the child being present. Another time, that father was given the statement that "he would only bring the child to work so he could sell more flowers".
After another physically disabled child had been beaten up a few times by older children in the neighborhood, the parents of the aggressors told the parents of the disabled child that "something like that should not be let out".
A disabled child was given a toy bow and arrow (with a rubber suction "tip") at a time when already all other children in the neighborhood had such toys. The disabled child went out to play one morning when the street was empty and no other people around. Shortly after that, neighbors called the parents and complained, as their children were now afraid and frightened. The disabled child was called back inside the house. Shortly after that, the neighbors drove away for a picnic and their children did not play outside anyway.
During their holidays or spare time, or leisure time, non-disabled people have a particular dislike of seeing physically disabled people.
In the summer of 1971, hotel owners in Italy cancelled reservations of families with children that had Contergan-caused disabilities (Stern 38/1971). The hotels so far had a first class reputation among their assumedly non-disabled guests and feared, probably due to actual complaints, that they might lose that reputation.
Difficult situations arise when parents eat out together with visibly disabled children (Unterprivilegiert, 1973, 120). A mother was in a Spanish hotel with her son Uwe who had dysmelia and who, normally for him, ate with his feet. German hotel guests protested, saying that the parents should either feed him, or, the family should sit elsewhere, as they were on holidays and the family should spare them "that" view (Die Zeit, 31/1977).
A particularly extreme example was provided by Goffman (Goffman, Erving: Stigma. Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs (N. J.) 1963 (a), Deutsch: Frankfurt 1967): a disabled man had left his wheelchair and tried to climb the stairs to a garden restaurant on his knees when a waiter blocked him, saying that "the other guests are here to have a good time, not to be depressed by the view of cripples".
Without doubt: the visual presence of a physically different person provides feelings of insecurity for not-disabled people, it disturbs our naturally well-ordered world view. When German TV (ZDF: second public channel) showed "The Great Prize" (link) whose revenue was at least in part shared with a support activity called "Action for Children in Need" (Aktion Sorgenkind), many viewers turned the TV off before - usually after the Great Prize had aired - children in need were shown on TV. The TV was turned off by viewers that felt it was best not to watch a broadcast showing visibly disabled people (Jansen, Gerd W.: Die Einstellung der Gesellschaft zu Körperbehinderten. Eine psychologische Analyse zwischenmenschlicher Beziehungen aufgrund empirischer Untersuchungen. Neuburgweier 1972.).
A female doctor whose daughter was disabled due to Contergan side effects was asked to leave her daughter at home. Her patients apparently stated something along the lines of "please do not always bring that child along, one cannot bear to look at it".
Even a long time after World War II and the Third Reich, Germans apparently opoined that "Hitler at least cleaned up in these institutions, where he gave "them" a merciful [lethal] injection" (from: Jansen, 1972).
Mentally handicapped children are discriminated to a considerable degree: a planned instiution for mentally handicapped children was boycotted in 1969 in Aumühle1 in Bavaria 2. Reformed pastors in Schleswig-Holstein refused to confirmate mentally disabled young people (Klee, Ernst: Behinderten-Report. Frankfurt 1974). From Hessian Treysa in 1971, it became known that the children from the local institution for mentally disabled children were collectively banned from using the local swimming pool (Die Zeit, 43/1971). The assumption of Seywald (Seywald, Aiga: Physische Abweichung und soziale Stigmatisierung. Zur sozialen Isolation und gestörten Rollenbeziehung physisch Behinderter und Entstellter. Rheinstetten 1976) that such hard exclusion practices were not exercised towards physically (but not mentally) disabled peope is wrong: there are a number of examples to show otherwise. A swim group of a disability association where also the child named S.S., with a Contergan-related disability, was participating, was collectively denied the use of the public swimming pool - allegedly due to "low capacity". Actual reasons are more likely to lie in the insecurities experienced by non-disabled people and an irrational fear of contamination! Thereby, according to Jansen (1972), 21% of interviewed non-disabled people want to spare "healthy" people the sight of disabled people. 6% believe that there exists a risk of contamination, and 711% rationalised their rejection that with a swimming pool ban, this would alleviate disabled people from having to face public embarrassment when having to go to the swimming pool.
[Added by translator: another situation allegedly occurred in the Hotel Jagdhof, Röhrnbach, Bayrischer Wald, Germany, that was reported in 2009, where a man who had suffered a cerebellar infarct was asked by the hotel staff of that "wellness" hotel to not use the sauna any more as other guests had complained about him. Apparently, the hotel staff never apologized on top of that. The hotel staff however addressed the media and said that the story had been more complicated.] 3
Refusing to help
Refusal to help is a peculiar form of avoiding interactions with disabled people.
Samerotte and Harris (Samerotte, George C. und Mary B. Harris: Some factors influencing help: The effects of a handicap responsibility, and requesting help. Journal of Social Psychology, 98, 1976, 39-45) tested how non-disabled people would offer help under various conditions: a physically disabled person drops a few envelopes in a shopping mall. The reactions of 120 shopping mall visitors (assumedly non-disabled) were tested with three appearances of disabled persons: (a) a person disabled by having a bandaged hand, (b) a person wearing an eye patch, and (c) a person with a facial disfigurement. Most help was offered to the person with the light disability (a: bandaged hand), whereas the person with eye patch (b) received less, the person with facial disfigurement (c) even less help. The given interpretation is that increasing degree of disability as seen from a crude observation leads to decreasing help. That was not changed even when the person with the visible disability asked for help. Also, the increased degree of anonymity in a shopping mall was seen as contributing to this outcome (Latané, Bibb und John M. Darley: The unresponsive bystander: Why doesn't he help? New York 1970; Lück, Helmut E.: Prosoziales Verhalten. Empirische Untersuchungen zur Hilfeleistung. Köln 1975).
A disabled child U.W., that required help when going to the bathroom, was helped by her best friend. When that friend left that school to go to another school, U.W. was faced with a total absence of other pupils that would help her. From then on, U.W. had no friend any more at that school.
Dysmelia child H.H was born without legs. The bus trip to school necessitated that the wheelchair was lifted over the door steps and so on. The bus driver denied any support, and as H.H. did not use prosthetic legs, he just slid across the ground without supports. Once the bus did not come and H.H. sat in the snow for half an hour, upon which he suffered hypothermia. School mates were of absolutely no help. After that, the father convinced the relevant government branch to pay for taxi transport that then paid for that.
Klee (Klee, Ernst: Behinderten-Report. Frankfurt 1974) describes the helpless experiences as follows: the wheelchair users has to wait until someone helps to lift him inside the bus. One user reported that they had waited for one and a half hours in winter while one bus after the other, all relatively full, had stopped, and driven on, full with passengers that stared, but that turned away the moment they were asked to help.
The dependence on others' help is something many disabled people try to avoid - at any cost. They prefer to bite through very difficult situations all by themselves in order to avoid the torture of having to submit to the demeaning situation, to have to beg, ask for help. One pupil with an arm-related disability painfully carried all luggage home by herself as fellow pupils and teachers had "forgotten" their normative duty for support.
The decisive aspect is the ambivalence that exists between duty to help and fear of interaction, that could potentially lead to a more permanent social connection that would be seen as burden from view of non-disabled people. Experiments showed that the readiness to help in such situations is lost between the age 5-10 (Katz, Phyllis A., Irwin Katz und Shirley Cohen: White children's attitudes toward blacks and the physically handicapped: A developmental study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 68, 1976, 20-24). Particularly severely disabled people face this type of massive exclusion from help.
Non-disabled people thus have a strongly expressed tendendy to avoid interactions with physically disabled people, which causes a high degree of social isolation for physically disabled people. Interaction avoidance is very hard for disabled people, as interaction defines people generally, and thus constitutes an existential necessity. Any individual needs interactions and only to experience themselves (Krappmann, Lothar: Soziologische Dimensionen der Identität. Strukturelle Bedingungen für die Teilnahme an Interaktionsprozessen. Stuttgart 1969.).
So far, this text presented originary psycho-physical reactions of non-disabled people towards disabled people. It gave some indications towards a pathological basic structure of mixed interactions, and the tendency to avoid interactions altogether was addressed.
The following parts of this text will address typical individual or single, stand-out type forms of reactions that non-disabled people may exhibit towards disabled people. We will distinguish reactions with a "positive" basic intention from those with a "negative" basic intention. The classification follows an ideal, average or typical type of reaction. This classification is only structured like that for reasons of readability - it is clear that "positive" stereotypical reactions may be just as stigmatising as "negative" ones. Hence, the quote marks.
As stated above, non-disabled people may feel their attention drawn towards visual aspects of a disability. Staring at physically different people occurs. There is a lot of empirical evidence to support this. There is talk of "running the gauntlet" (G.H.), "gawking" (C.H.), "staring and whispering" (S.S.), "staring" (V.R.) and "stupid looking" (H.S.).
Getting stared at is extremely common and it is extremely uncomfortable. It is one of the most unpleasant experiences of disabled people generally. "The handicapped person hates nothing more than this gauntlet run of curious pairs of eyes, many will not cope with it for the rest of their lives, resign themselves to it, withdraw to the living room" (Klee, 1974).
White, Wright und Dembo (1948) cite statements of disabled veterans: "They stare und gawk at you ... there is nothing you can say about it" (17). - "We felt like a monkey in a glass cage" (22). - "Some people look at him and act like he's not human or something" (18).
In three of our case studies, there are reports of confrontations with particularly persistent gawpers. Mrs. H., for example, was very excited to "tell this person to look at everything in peace and then go to hell" (G.H.).
Also, handicapped children have their eyes set on them. The 5-year-old H.H. asked her father: "Dad, am I something so special that people gape like that?" And a 16-year-old dysmelia child describes his feelings as a "sensational object" like this: "If you are stared at without saying a word, without asking something, I find that bad. It's not so shocking when people talk to you" (Die Zeit, No. 31 v. 22. 7. 1977).
Our informants all agree that this staring is hardly ever seen in children so it seems to be a typical form of reaction in adults, especially older women. This statement stands in a certain contrast to the remarks of Seywald (1976), who expressly welcomes the still unbiased "explorative behaviour" of small children and contrasts it with the "passing over" of the stigmatizing characteristic in adults, which is already marked by the "irrelevance rule" (103ff).
Also Wright (1960, 218f), Davis (1961, 126, note 15) and Goffman (1967, 26) rather accuse children than adults of "rude" reactions such as staring and curiosity, but obviously do not assume there to be an innocent "childlike impartiality" as suggested by Seywald.
Davis (1961, 129) points out that the physically handicapped have the greatest difficulties with the "openness" of small children and also with the paternal compassion of older persons.
According to our records, there is no evidence of particularly curious behaviour on the part of children, although it should be noted that we only have information on reactions to physically handicapped children.
Staring is an expression of unbridled curiosity and comes across as generally very discriminatory. The privacy of the person being stared at, which also includes any physical disability, is tactlessly violated, to which the visibility of the respective disability contributes decisively.
Thus, staring at them is associated with a devaluation of the private (White, Wright and Dembo, 1948, 17; Goffman, 1967, 26).
In addition, being stared at by a stranger lacks any meaningful structural psychological connection; it connotates an "alien" type of approach and corresponds to the behavior that is usually only shown to an unusual object, such as a zoo animal (White, Wright and Dembo, 1948, 21f).
Because of the explicit norm of not staring at physically different persons, the non-disabled are confronted with ambivalence conflicts and feelings of guilt if they give in to his tendency to stare (Langer et al., 1976, 452f) .
Thus this form of reaction also bears all the signs of the above-mentioned heavily weighted, ambivalent and stressful interaction disorder between the non-disabled and the disabled.
Talking to us and posing respectless questions
Approaching disabled persons, guided by unrestrained curiosity, combined with tactless questions, is another uncomfortable experience that belongs to the stigma experiences of those affected, although it may not be perceived quite as hurtful as getting staring at, since at least a chance for communication appears to be opened up.
The above-mentioned discrimination against the private sphere of the disabled person and his degradation to an object also characterize this form of reaction of the non-disabled when encountering a disabled person (White, Wright and Dembo, 1948, 21f).
Obtrusively addressing an unknown person seems to be otherwise common particularly among persons with low social status, including children or the elderly, according to normal etiquette or more widely accepted rules of interaction (Goffman, 1963b, 126f). The experience of handicapped people that they are simply called by their first name or nicknames again and again by people who are completely foreign to them fits in well with this (Klee, 1974a, 177; 1976, 123f).
Some examples of tactless response from our case studies:
"Mrs. S. is asked by an elderly lady on the bus about the stumps of her little daughter's arms: "My God, you have to do something about that!" Ms. S. added her view on that experience: "The elderly lady displayed no pity, but she was rather reproachful, as if I was to blame for it." (S.S. ).
Mrs. H. feels that the behaviour of neighbours and acquaintances during pregnancy and the birth of the next child after the physically different little H. is similarly cryptic: "People constantly inquired about my well-being and whether everything was really okay. That was sensationalism rather than compassion, it hurt!"(H.H.).
"A post delivery driver saw the little U.W. and said spontaneously in great astonishment: "What is that????" The W's didn't perceive it as malicious, but as a "typical first reaction"."
The quasi-automatic classification of the physically different person as an object, as a monster, becomes particularly clear here.
On the other hand, the following experience testifies to flat curiosity:
"A farmer brought us something, walked through the whole house in excitement, finally saw the U. and asked straight out: "Is this the little one who doesn't have arms?" (U.W.).
The physically handicapped person as a show object, which one must have seen at close range!
Sometimes tactless questions are not enough to satisfy curiosity, then the incomprehensible has to be touched with one's own hands.
The mother of a dysmelia child had the following experience when buying shoes for her boy:
"The salesgirl, an older one, picks up several boxes and tries them out with Martin. She then suddenly reaches into his jacket, up to his shoulder, and asks me whether I'm cutting off the sleeves or whether I hem them (Der Stern, No. 22/1968).
Also offensive are questions such as: "Had you taken tablets?", which the mother of a "spastic" reports about (Unterprivilegiert, 1973, 121), or: "Is this a genetic damage from radiation? (Bläsig and Schomburg, 1966, 16).
H. S. can remember that sometimes other children asked: "Why do you have such short arms? She always reacted calmly, like this: "You just have long and I just have short," and that was it.
An example of "explorative behaviour" by children. By the way, we were able to find out again that it was adults and not children who excelled in a negative way. There can be no question of any "irrelevance rule" taking effect.
Discriminatory statements against physically different persons are also a frequent experience.
It was not small children, but 13-year-olds who were the ones who, in our case studies, made statements such as: "You are a miscarriage! (U. W.) and: "The way you look it is doubtful that someone else would ever want you! (T. D.) were reported. Nevertheless one should not overinterprete these statements: both statements appeared to be not purposeful, but out of the heat of an argument. Nevertheless, the stigmatization effect is without doubt considerable, as the affected people reported.
Discriminatory remarks by adults may be more indirect; they may often be directed against relatives of the physically disabled person and thus contribute to the typical extension of stigma consequences to friends or relatives. Mrs. H., mother of a severely handicapped dysmelia child, heard from neighbours: "Her girls have to make an effort to get married at alll!" (H.H.). The older non-disabled sisters were meant with that statement, seeing as if the effect of disability is contagious at least in a social way.
The handicapped persons and their relatives easily become the object of discriminating speculations of their social environment. In our case studies there were several complaints about "whispering behind the back". Haupt (1974) stated that 63.7 % of the parents of dysmelia children interviewed by her had experienced that "they were being talked about behind them" during a walk (51).
In the case of the "Thalidomide children", envy of the financial compensation was the cause of some insulting remarks:
"G.H.'s father accepted congratulations from his colleagues at work: 'You're going to do just fine with all the thalidomide money! (G.H. ).
"When the H. family rebuilt their house, the neighbors knew immediately: "Well, you've got it good with the money." About Mrs. H. the people said: "She doesn't put on her fur coat that had been bought with all the thalidomide money any more, surely she is a little ashamed! (H.H.).
Relatives of physically different persons must therefore expect incomprehension and discrimination on the part of their social environment. A man who married a severely disabled, completely paralyzed woman was the first to hear at work that he was "probably ill in the head". For four years he held out the teasing, then the marriage was divorced - at the instigation of the handicapped partner (Die Zeit, No. 39 v. 17.9.1976).
A physically handicapped person reports about an open rejection by a taxi driver in the magazine "Spontan" (No. 5/1974): "Nope, I don't transport that!". In this context, the author asks the justified question: "Is a physically handicapped person a neuter, or even a thing?" In fact, empirical studies indicate that the physically handicapped person is generally regarded as a "genderless being", as different in every respect and also in the sexual realm, just as a neuter. Also in the form of addressing the disabled person, their absent normal adult status becomes clear. The disabled person is dependent and powerless; in this respect that person will be disposed of like a child. The relationship is only allowed to have the character of an object.
Physically handicapped persons must behave in such a way that they do not become a nuisance to the non-handicapped: modest, grateful, humble.
Some pedagogues work full-time for such educational goals. Klee (1974c) quotes a teacher at a special school for the physically handicapped:
"If the children are looked at by a stern adult after an incident occurred (such as a glass was dropped etc.), I have taught them to say, 'Excuse me, I am a thalidomide child.'"
So much for the discriminatory remarks against physically disabled people.
We have divided the "negative" forms of reaction to be dealt with below into three categories: a) jokes, b) mockery and annoyance, and c) aggression and destructive tendencies. What they have in common is that they primarily serve as lightning rod for the basic aggressive tendencies of non-disabled people towards the disabled.
This also applied in part to discriminatory statements.
We will deal with aggressions of children directed against physically different persons under the heading "mockery and annoyance", since in our opinion they are not to be equated with corresponding aggressions of adults.
The only study on physically different persons as a subject of jokes dates back more than 30 years and is presented in the book by Barker et al. (1946).
A review of 5 joke collections with a total of 6909 jokes showed that 4.1 % of these jokes related to physical defects or physical disabilities, 80 % of which were clearly devaluing (81f). The most frequent jokers were persons suffering from facial deformities or obesity (81).
This result corresponds to the particularly negative evaluation of facial deformities and obesity, as it became clear in the work of Richardson et al. (1967), among others, in the compilation of popularity rankings. In view of the fact that jokes are culturally justified and require a high degree of consensus on their subject, this is not surprising.
Jokes about disabled people are reliable indicators of otherwise hidden attitudes. Jokes about physically different people belong to the category of jokes that Freud characterized in his well-known treatise as "hostile", serving the need of a person that wants to express aggression and rejection (1958, 78).
"The hostile impulses against our neighbors are (...) subject to the (...) progressive [socially motivated] suppression (...) The joke will allow us to portray as ridiculous (...) that which we are not allowed to put forward loudly or consciously because of social pressure" (Freud, 1958, 82f).
If we adopt this train of thought, then a joke that ridicules disability serves on the one hand as a defense mechanism against the feeling of immediate threat from the physically different, and on the other hand it channels open aggression directed against the disabled in a socially acceptable way. From this point of view, it is thus quite functional as a socially tolerated release mechanism. The stigmatisation effect for those affected, however, is considerable. If the suffering of one person must serve the pleasure gain of another, then this is clearly a particularly degrading experience.
In summary it can be said that jokes can be extraordinarily revealing when it comes to a society's attitude towards its disabled. Research in this field is largely lacking; it seems to us to be urgently needed.
Ridicule and teasing
Open ridicule of persons with physical defects is regarded as gross lack of courtesy, which usually appears to be rated with a more decisive social disapproval.
Macgregor (1951) reports about a man with a hemiplegic facial palsy whose life was made difficult by his colleagues at work: "They would tell jokes and make faces the way I do when I talk. Or they would say 'are you trying to be tough, talking out of the side of your face?" (634).
Normally the mockery in adults seems to occure in a more covert way, and it seems to be accompanied by patronizing compassion (Wright, 1960, 243).
The situation is different with children, who seem to be particularly pleased by the accentuated branding of others as deviant, resulting in a n aggressively open and malicious joy, which has led to the widespread conviction that children are particularly "cruel" in this regard .
Indeed, this assumption is supported by the experiences of disabled people. Goffman (1967) quotes a disabled girl: "As ... I began to walk alone in the streets of our city, ... I found out that whenever I happened to have to walk by alone on the sidewalk with three or four other children, they used to call out to me ... Sometimes they even ran after me screaming and mocking ... One day I suddenly realized that I had become so prejudiced and anxious in front of all these children I did not know, that they smelled like animals how much I was afraid, so that even the most gentle and lovable of them were automatically driven to ridicule, by my own extreme fright and horror" (28f).
What is apparently important to consider is the mob type situation, the large grouping, from which children tend to undertake attacks against physically different persons, accompanied by mockery. In our case studies, there was talk of the general "agitation of children" (U. W.) and of "ringleaders" (S. S.) in the initiation of aggressions against a dysmelia child. Typically, such aggressive clashes are reported to occur among children of similar age and in connection with school attendance.
"In the case of S.S., an additional operation on a fractured kneecap became necessary because other children repeatedly tried the "funny" effect of extending their feet to get S.S. to fall - S. fell on his knees or face because of his inability to catch the falls, due to short arm stumps -. and in the kneecap fracture accident, the mother of the boy that had caused that fall was also present, but showed no reaction, Mrs. S. told us that she had got used to such things and did not try making a "big circus", her handicapped child would fall over easily anyway, but it should be treated as normally as other children, this was important to counteract possible isolation.
Such an attitude has also been affirmed to us by other parents, where the conflict is obvious, in favour of the goal of "normal upbringing" the painful experience of disparagement by non-disabled children is accepted.
By the way, it should be pointed out that teachers of physically handicapped children easily find themselves in the same conflict situation and have to accept hard criticism from parents if they deny a special protection from the hostility of their non-handicapped comrades (e.g. U.W.) in the sense of equal treatment of all children.
Overall, the claim that children are "cruel" to physically deviating persons is at least not refuted by our own case study material.
To make it clear once again, we are fully aware of the exemplary character of our empirical data, as well as of the possible one-sidedness of statements made by emotionally and personally engaged persons, such as parents of disabled children.
Nevertheless, Haupt (1974, 46) also found that significantly (p < .001) more dysmelia children, namely 29.6 %, were beaten by other children compared to the non-disabled children of a control group (7.66 %) - but also on the basis of parental data.
The observation that older children often insure themselves for the support of like-minded people before they follow aggressive tendencies towards physically handicapped people shows already an overshaping of original behaviour patterns by social regulations regarding the treatment of handicapped people. Small children, on the other hand, react even more openly and as individuals. In the case of V.R., it was a first grader who teased the 12-year-old girl at every opportunity: "In the swimming pool V. did not dare to jump from the 5-metre board, and then the little boy shouted: "Jump with your short hands!" V. had such a hard time carrying it that the parents decided to intervene massively against the cheeky boy. Otherwise, the schoolmates had always been fair.
M.K.'s parents also told us that teasing by other children had been rare, and that if they had been, they had been smaller children from 3 to 4 years old. M. was then always very affected.
Here again the question arises whether "explorative behaviour" of small children should now be welcomed and promoted educationally, as Seywald (1976, 138) thinks, or not. We believe that the openness and honesty invoked by Seywald in his relations with physically handicapped persons is not to be endorsed as a fundamental value in itself, but must be seen in a very differentiated way, in view of the predominantly negative repercussions on the handicapped person. Even for explorative behaviour it is true that the disabled person becomes an object of interaction, without the chance to have a say in the situation. Seywald (1976) admits elsewhere: "Functional exploration may trigger a deep shock in one case, in another it may have a liberating effect, in the third it may be registered as insulting tactlessness" (105). With that, it remains unclear why explorative behaviour should generally be learnt from childhood as a "desirable alternative" to the otherwise pre-programmed default - the typically problematically tense interaction, as a "positive way of reacting" (138).
Back to mockery and annoyance in the experience of the physically handicapped. Especially impressive, although certainly not representative for all dysmelia children, are the experiences of G.K., who was born with severe hearing damage and missing auricles. Typical here is the tendency of non-disabled people to assume a mental disability because of communication difficulties, i.e. a form of disability that generally leads to particularly pronounced social rejection. It is also typical for G.K. that he does not react defensively to reductions in the manner characteristic of the physically handicapped, but rather reacts extremely aggressively, which leads to a rapid escalation of all arguments and indirectly supports the assumption of a mental disorder via the stereotypical notion of the aggressiveness of such persons. G.K. provokes reactions of the non-disabled, as can be observed more frequently in physically handicapped persons with cerebral disorders of coordination in movements and forms of expression than in thalidomide children. G.K. had to experience extraordinary aversion and hostility from other children and their parents at an early age. Mr. K. reports: "At that time G. could only go to the playground in front of the house (at the age of 5) in our company or he played there when it was raining cats and dogs because the other children were not there. Once he had built himself a pit of mud on the playground. He was really happy. The other children were just waiting for him to finish it, then they broke everything for him. They destroyed everything that had to do with G. at all. Nevertheless we always sent him outside to play so he wouldn't be isolated, but he was always alone outside." "When G.K. came to the special school for the hearing impaired at the age of 8, he suffered a lot from the constant teasing of the other children, who are also hearing impaired. Often there are fights. Once he is prevented from going to the toilet. When he finally defecates into his pants in front of the toilet door, his classmates are very enthusiastic and he is insulted as a "pants shitter"." "In former times there were always shouts like: "Hey you, where are your ears?" In the meantime the missing ears are covered by a long hairstyle. When G. went to another school (Realschule) at the age of 12, things went well for only three weeks, then the other children found out. A bigger boy started it in the school bus, and finally all the children in the choir shouted: "He has no ears! He doesn't have any ears! G. says: "Be careful that you don't lose your ears!" The taller boy interprets this as a declaration of war, and there is a brawl in which other children also take part. G. comes home quite damaged that day. The bus driver didn't intervene. One thing that has to be considered in this incident is again the mass or mob type situation, and the other is the fact that adults become, so to speak, complicit and condonably guilty, which points to a very strong suppressed aggression. We take up this point again on the following pages when it comes to aggressive adult behavior.
Disabled children, moreover, are constantly in danger of their need for social acceptance being exploited by their non-disabled playmates. An example of this aspect of the outsider problem can also be found in the G.K. case study: "other children promise G. that he can also play along when he steals matches from a merchant. G. likes to play along, so he goes and steals the matches. The playmates then set fire to it. Great uproar. Everything is blamed on G.; the case is also clear for the parents of the other children: "G. did it, no wonder, he's stupid anyway".
Aggression and ideas of annihilation
We are now turning to aggressive behavioral tendencies in adults.
The following incident from the G.K. case study is revealing: "A little boy from the house wipes the stairs and waggles (the disabled boy) G. with the wet cloth on his face. G. says: "Don't do that!" When he gets close again, the boy hits him in the face with his rag. The ensuing wrangling attracts other children from the street. During the general fight, the little boy's mother opens the window with the wiping cloth and shouts: "Come on, beat him up!" (so the parent encourages the little boy to beat up the disabled child).
Here again it becomes quite clear that adults even though they may not dare to openly aggress disabled people because of the negative social sanctions, appear to support them when children - so to speak as representatives - openly express their general rejection.
And the disabled? When asked why there would always be trouble with him, G.K. (12 years old) replies to his mother: "My life is like a hallway. All doors used to be closed, so I did everything right. Now the doors are open, I go into the rooms and do everything wrong!"
Suggestions for the destruction of disabled life by healthy people, often wrapped in transparent pity, often accompany the first days of life of a physically handicapped child. Mrs. K. tells of an acquaintance, a midwife by profession: "When she saw G., she told me: "If I had delivered the boy, he would not have survived! (G.K.).
The mother of a thalidomide child with similar hearing impairments as G.K. reports from the evening after the birth of her child: "Before the light was extinguished, the midwife came through the room again: 'Oh you are the mother of the unhappy child. It would rather not have been born at all'. They should be words of comfort." (v. Kuenheim, 1968) .
Even more impressive is the following experience of the mother of a Dysmelie child: "When Martin was still lying in the pram, I took him for a walk one afternoon. A woman was sitting on a park bench at the end of her sixtieth year. We got into conversation, about the weather and what you talk about. She looked into the car, punched the blanket back and saw what was going on with Martin. The woman suddenly gets narrow eyes and says to me: "This would not have been possible under Adolf Hitler. Such children would not have been allowed to live back then." (Der Stern, No. 22/1968) .
The results of empirical studies on the extent of corporal punishment by parents in dysmelia children are also alarming. According to Kunert (1967b, 21), 94% of the parents she interviewed beat their Contergan-damaged child. Kunert does not provide any comparative information on the physical punishment of non-disabled children. Haupt (1974, 46) gives corresponding comparative figures. According to these figures, 80% of the parents of non-disabled children, but 90% of the parents of dysmelia children, use physical punishment. Whether this can be interpreted as an expression of aggressive tendencies against the physically handicapped child is not clear here.
Farina, Holland and Ring (1966) carried out systematic studies on the aggression behaviour of non-disabled people towards disabled people. The test arrangement essentially corresponded to Milgram's well-known shock experiments on the question of obedience to authority (1974, 30ff). The test subjects were given the task of teaching a (initiated) "pupil" a certain sequence of letters as "teacher". In the case of wrong answers, the test subjects were able to punish the student by giving "electric shocks" of different duration and intensity.
Before the beginning of the learning experiment, the "pupils" were described in different ways:
- as a person with normal youth,
- as a person with pathogenic youth,
- as a typical "normal" adult,
- as an adult who had been treated in an institution for the mentally handicapped.
As a result of their research, Farina et al (1966) summarized: "A person is punished less when he is perceived as having had a typical childhood and being normal than when he is seen as having had a poor childhood or as having been mentally ill" (425).
According to Farina et al., the reaction of the non-disabled person is determined by the stigma and the extent to which the person concerned is held responsible for this stigma (426). The severity of the aggressions observed indicates the correctness of Goffman's finding that a person with a stigma is generally assumed to be "not quite human" (1967, 13).
In a further study by Farina, Sherman and Allen (1968), aggressive behaviour towards physically handicapped persons was recorded. A severely physically handicapped person (wheelchair) was punished less severely with electric shocks than a slightly physically handicapped person (slight walking disability) (591). A non-disabled control person was unfortunately not included, so that this result says relatively little. Also the statement: "Whether a stigma evokes favorable or unfavorable attitudes and behaviors may be a very complex matter" (591) is not too convincing.
Ring and Farina (1969) found their hypothesis confirmed, according to which the duration of the shocks intended for an allegedly mentally handicapped person would be longest in emotionally unstable test subjects. The controversial question of the "ethics" of electric shock experiments is also discussed in this paper. Remarkable to us is the fact that out of 16 subjects who were asked about the experiment, only one expressed reservations. Everyone else said they had fun distributing shocks (689).
Another shock experiment is reported by Farina et al (1976). This time the experiment was not carried out in the laboratory, but in an institution for mentally handicapped people. The "pupils" were a non-disabled person, a mentally handicapped person and a mentally retarded (intelligence handicapped) person. The strength of the shock was highly variable, least of all for the mentally handicapped, presumably because of lower expectations of learning ability.
Titley and Viney (1969) carried out an investigation based on the model of Farina et al. Here, aggressive behaviour towards a physically handicapped person with crutches was recorded. Special emphasis was placed on the determination of gender-specific influences, therefore both male and female test subjects interacted with male and female physically handicapped persons as well as non-handicapped persons in the control situation. The differences according to gender were considerable. Men showed significantly more aggression towards the male disabled compared to the male non-disabled (shock intensity 63.8 and 54.2, respectively), while they distributed quite high shocks to women irrespective of the disability factor (74.8 and 74.0, respectively). Women, on the other hand, showed more aggressiveness towards both the disabled and the non-disabled man (66.8 and 69.0, respectively), while they already treated the non-disabled woman milder (58.0) and the degree of aggression in a disabled woman as the recipient of the shocks reached a minimum of 32.4 (53).
The results are therefore quite contradictory, so that a generally valid statement is hardly admissible. According to the results of Titley and Viney, the variable sex affiliation of the test subject would be decisive for the extent of aggressive behaviour, not the variable physical disability. Such a conclusion, however, does not seem very likely. The interpretation of the authors themselves emphasizes the influence of maternal protective abilities on women (54), but at the same time it is admitted that the results are "at best suggestive" (55). This is to be agreed.
Expressions of compassion, willingness to help, etc. are considered highly valued signs of social responsibility. On the other hand, a general need for help is not a generally desirable condition, because it prevents the person concerned from their own enactment and implentation of realizing social expectations, in connection with performance, independence, mobility, etc.
"Positive" reactions of non-disabled people, which disabled person attract, are therefore by no means always to be welcomed, since they underline their assumed inability to conform to a non-disabled norm and thus generally contribute to a stabilisation of a similarly assumed or constructed deviant identity.
Furthermore, the authenticity of aggressively presented, apparently positive emotions towards disabled people is questionable in most cases, given the actual ambivalence of the non-disabled between their own deep aversion and rather comprehensively unmanaged socially desirable positive behaviour.
Expression of pity and sympathy
Public display of apparent compassion for the healthy is one of the most common experiences of physically disabled persons and, at the same time, appears to be one of the most vehemently rejected (Dembo, Ladieu-Leviton and Wright, 1956, ch. 6; Gowman, 1957, 164ff; Wright, 1960, 233).
The tendency of physically handicapped children to attract unsolicited display of compassion by non-disabled people seems to be even stronger.
Typical is the pejorative connotation "poor", in connection with "child", e.g.: "Poor child! (G.H.) "Look, the poor child!" (Die Zeit, No. 31/1977, p. 42) or "The poor child, how can it live like that at all! "(M. K.) Also, a blatant preference of handicapped children by relatives or teachers, while disregarding non-disabled children also present, was reported to us, likewise an expression form of apparent publicly displayed or enacted compassion. From an educational point of view, such a "preference" is clearly to be rejected; as a rule, the result may be poor attitudes of the handicapped child which later may be very difficult to correct.
The parents of G.H. state: "Because of the disability, G. has always been allowed anything. Everyone always felt sorry for the child. In the school she was preferred, there, all eyes were closed [when she made errors or misbehaved]. I would say that G. is lazy and clever at the same time. She does all sorts of things to avoid schoolwork, and she took full advantage of her schoolmates, with the effect that nobody wants to be her boyfriend anymore. The child thinks it always manages to get out of every situation, because of pity" (G.H.).
The greatest aversion of disabled people to the show-cased, publicly displayed and unsolicited "pity" of the non-disabled, however, is based on the notion of being devalued, coupled with strong mistrust of a mere pretense of positive impulses (Wright, 1960, 233).
The father of the dysmelia child U.W. expressed himself as follows: "Almost everyone has pity when they see our child, but I simply don't take it from the people, it's not real, it's just posed, hypocritical" (U.W.).
For the non-disabled, aggressively acting out apparent compassion seems to be a proven way out of any dilemma of their own behavioural insecurity in the face of the physically deviant: it seems to feel better to act on their own ambivalence, stress and dilemma and thus to steer towards achieving an assumedly socially highly valued goal, than rigid, torturous, paralyzed painful inactivity.
Scott (1972) notes: "The pity we often feel toward those who are blind, or crippled or mad, is in reality anger and hatred that has been disguised in a form that is more acceptable to us" (16). Jansen (1972) also points to display or explicit expression of pity as a way of dealing with uncertainty.
Unconscious feelings of guilt can play a major role, as the following statement by a non-disabled person makes clear: "What have I done to deserve that I am not crippled? After all, it is my duty and obligation to help such people, even as a thanksgiving, for the fact that I did not get caught by any such fate" (121).
The unsolicited, proactive explicity display of apparent compassion undoubtedly contributes to discrimination against the disabled, even if it does not seem so at first glance. Compassion creates a clear dividing line between that who seems well and the apparently unwell, unfortunate handicapped person, who primarily becomes the object of such targeted explicitly delivered apparent compassion only because the non-handicapped person feels that they can thus free themselves from the very bad feeling of their own, deep insecurity.
As an object, however, the disabled person is exposed to the pity of the healthy, whether they want it or not. The mother of a dysmelia child, who has clearly recognized this, reports: "I came then, [after childbirth] ... with [the newly born] Martin from the hospital, we went up the stairs. A neighbour opened the door, looked at me friendly and said: 'I want to congratulate you anyway'. Then I knew what to expect from now on. There is nothing you can do about pity; you are at the mercy of it" (Der Stern, Nr. 22/1968).
Much of what has just been said also applies to the various forms of help that non-disabled people offer to, impose on, perform on the physically disabled, even if the latter does not want or need them at all.
Imposed help may cause - like imposed expressions of apparent compassion, staring at and responding - in the disabled person the aforementioned "uneasiness to be exposed" (Goffman, 1967, 26), the feeling of being degraded to the mere object of egoistic impulses of the non-disabled. In addition to relieving unconscious feelings of guilt and behavioural insecurity, this kind of imposed activism euphemistically termed help (which can actually no longer be described as "help" in the original sense of the word) offers the actors an opportunity to demonstrate their superior status by devaluing the handicapped person.
"The act of helping represents a one-sided social relationship that bases on prerogatory status judgements. The person who is always the one to be helped is likely to be always considered as inferior" (Wright, 1960, 224).
This is the main reason why imposed help is judged rather negatively and mostly rejected by disabled people (Ladieu, Hanfmann und Dembo, 1947). In addition to questioning his status, which can lead to an anticipation of complete helplessness for the future, help often directs general attention to the fact of disability in an undesirable way, thus undermining any of the disabled person's efforts to a, from their own view, more relaxed "normality" (Wright, 1960, 224f) .
Ultimately, however, it depends on the type of assistance, or, "assistance", that is imposed by the non-disabled on the disabled, very much depending on specifics. In many situations, the disabled person does indeed need help and the existence of such necessary and required support or help is then also affirmed by any disabled people (Wright, 1960, 229ff). Effective help, however, presupposes a certain level of information about the real and actual needs of the disabled person and is therefore typically not easy if at all possible to figure out by uninvolved bystanders . Imposed help can even be extremely dangerous, e.g. when non-disabled people try to push a disabled person in a wheelchair down the stairs, whereby the person concerned can fall out very easily (Klee, 1974d).
Indirect or impersonal help
Impersonal help in our society essentially consists of material donations, donations as the "most elegant" solution to buy away from looming oppressive obligations towards the handicapped person while at the same time maintaining a maximum of calming distance. Impersonal help as a third form of "positive" reactions of non-disabled people to the challenge in the form of the disabled person also implies social devaluation and the establishment of the deviant role.
A clear indication of the preferred forms of help can be found in the study by Jansen (1972, 95, 178). 65 % of the respondents were in favour of impersonal or material help (donations, buying goods from disabled people, collecting money) compared to 24 % who considered direct personal help to be right (inviting or taking disabled people on holiday, adopting disabled children). 13% did not know what to answer.
One of the most common rationalizations for resorting to impersonal help is to point to the greater competence of others engaged in disability work: "Of course you should help, but basically you can only do that by donating money." - "In addition, there are people who are responsible for this, and who can deal with the malformed better, i.e. better trained than themselves" (Jansen, 1972, 120).
Most feared is any assumed "excessiveness of the need to help" (Lautmann et al. 1972, 88): under no circumstances does one want to burden oneself with a close attachment to the disabled. Gstettner and Schönwiese (1977) state on the basis of their observations in a dormitory for disabled and non-disabled students: "Non-handicapped people are afraid that physically handicapped people will cling to them, and that this will permanently stress and restrict their general [assumedly unrestricted] scope of action, room for maneuvre" (285). At the same time, the physically handicapped person would tend to ask only for the most necessary assistance, which in turn would increase his isolation (ibid.).
In the case of physically handicapped children, material care is more often provided in direct contact. The impersonal character of the social relationship is thus only insignificantly alleviated: actually, the disabled person as a person is not meant at all. The good deed is determined by the non-disabled person's self-interest.
In the case studies, we were repeatedly told about charity campaigns: Strange people put a ten dollar note with the words: "The child should also have fun" (M.K.), "there is an extra large bag of popcorn" (G.H.), "free rides at the fair" (M.K.), "money and chocolate in shops"(H.H.) etc. - Looking back [on their experiences], dysmelia children today admit that this ever recurring "wait, I still have something beautiful for you" by strangers was hurtful and tormenting (Die Zeit, No. 31 v. 22.7.1977).
Material benefits to adults with physical disabilities are obviously rarer. The only description of such behaviour known to us can be found in Ernst Klee's "Experiences of a 'voluntary cripple'": "The bus driver does not want to charge the escort a fare when unloading: "But I beg you!" And so it will happen more often: Some people don't want admission, no fare or even put one, two or ten dollars on the wheelchair so that the disabled person can have a nice evening. They don't take the disabled person seriously as a fully-fledged person (and where would they take him more seriously than with money?), they don't even accept him as a business partner. They give alms, pity, meaningless words to get away with it" (1974a, 176).
An essential moment for [the sociological eximation of] impersonal help is once again the more or less conscious feelings of guilt of the non-disabled. They feel pressure fom that guilt that they attempt to counteract by acting out charity (Jansen, 1972, 121; Heese and Solarova, 1973, 48). -- Scott (1969, 95f) draws attention to the connection between fear, latent feelings of guilt and the propensity to donate among the non-disabled on the one hand, and the organized, skilful exploitation of this fact by social institutions on the other.
Rehabilitation facilities, for example, are crucially dependent on financial support from non-disabled people. So, in return, they guarantee the non-disabled a complete relief from all that is so problematic about disabled people and thus, as we have seen above, give a very welcome excuse for interaction avoidance efforts, Scott states: "The layman is told that the most important contribution he can make toward salving the problems of the blind is to provide funds to enable agencies and workers to apply their expertise. This suggestion provides the audience with a clear, important, and relatively painless part to play in helping the blind: by the act of donating money, their pent-up feelings of guilt aroused earlier can be discharged; it is understandable that so many sighted people find the benefactor role palatable" (95).
The best example of the effectiveness of this mechanism in our country is ZDF's "Aktion Sorgenkind". Coupled with an entertainment programme, film reports about handicapped children are presented in order to awaken feelings of guilt and donor mood in equal measure. You can take part in a lottery, have the chance to win a lot of money and at the same time you can pat yourself on the back satisfied with the sense of responsibility that you have demonstrated by donating for the poor children - by the way. This seems to us to be the most impersonal form of impersonal help; - certainly the main reason why "Aktion Sorgenkind" is so extraordinarily popular, as the millions spent on the "good cause" show.
If openly discriminatory behaviour occurs relatively rarely, this may be primarily due to the effect of the social irrelevance rule, according to which interaction partners have to act as if a physical deviation does not exist at all.
For reasons of politeness, there is a "sham acceptance"  of the disabled person, which on the one hand has to be critically evaluated because of the ambivalence conflicts it causes among the non-disabled, but on the other hand also includes the chance of a normalisation of the social relationship.
Davis (1961) in particular drew attention to this point: "For, as transparent and confining as this fiction is, it frequently is the only basis upon which the contact can develop into something more genuinely sociable" (127). According to Davis, only by maintaining an - albeit disturbed - interaction relationship can a "breakthrough" to normality take place (127ff), in which the non-disabled, supported by clever tactics of the physically handicapped person, forces himself to accept him and identify with him ("take his role"; 127). Thus, sham acceptance is a possible basis for normalizing the relationship between the disabled and the non-disabled; this positive aspect [of faking acceptance] must be kept in mind.
Expert observers agree that real commitment to the disabled is very rare (Heere and Solarova, 1973, 49).
Even people who have opted for a profession within the framework of work with the disabled can hardly completely shake off a basic affective dislike (Jansen, 1972, 121f).
Genuine commitment is therefore probably a rare exception in the behaviour of non-disabled people towards disabled people, which presupposes an extraordinary motivation of the person concerned.
If one follows the reflections of Scott (1969, 32ff), then one must even ask oneself here whether a "reward", albeit indirect, is not ultimately expected in exchange: Dependency and gratitude on the part of the handicapped person or also faith-based hopes for recognition by supernatural powers.
Institutional representatives and their behaviour
So far, we have discussed forms of social response to physically deviant individuals taking place at the level of interaction. In the last chapter, we turn to the overall social aspect of social response, behavior at the institutional level.
The social discrimination and isolation of disabled people is an almost inevitable consequence of the exclusive orientation of our society towards the healthy and able to act, [the ones that are bodily intact or at least the ones that look as that]. Von Ferber (1972) emphasizes that industrial socialization presupposes "strategic functional services" which are essentially based on the criteria of apparent or visibly credible usefulness, responsibility and the ability to communicate, services whose fulfilment has been narrowly limited by the disability or which have often even become completely impossible.
In contrast to the non-disabled, the disabled person cannot therefore assume the social [including, mostly, economical] roles for which he or she is intended, and [thus, by extension, unable to] establish sufficient social relations. The meritocracy does not offer them the opportunity to live their lives in a publicly recognised way. They are [not explicitly excluded but not included actively, as they are] "different", unknown, largely invisible.
"The line that separates the disabled from the non-disabled in our society therefore defines a social distance that emerges from the incompatibility of the images of human beings that are presupposed in socialization" (32). This argument emphasizes the disability-specific inability to fill the role expected by society. The following are expected in our society: "[apparent] nusefulness in the sense of market performance, ...responsibility for the continuity of this very social order and skill in maintaining group relations" (32).
Whoever cannot provide these services without further ado experiences a "[comprehensive] restriction of social participation" (40) ; this common characteristic characterizes the minority of the disabled within the majority of the healthy. The handicapped people have "no socially determined empty form of behaviour" (32) at their disposal as the non-handicapped person have.
According to Karstedt (1975), as a member of a socially marginalised group, the disabled can "in the individual social spheres of life ... play basically only the role of the "outsider", they are thus allowed to participate in social life as an "excluded" (183). [or, they are absolutely reamed and exposed as freaks in Circus-like shows such as the "Cybathlon", one of the most disdainful, disablity-hating events ever created].
The paradox of this situation also becomes clear in the following quote from Kriegel (1971), who compares the role within society granted to the physically disabled with that of a black person in the USA: "Their (the cripples') first step is obvious. They must accept the fact that their existence is a source of discomfort to others. This is not to say that they are not permitted to live with comfort and security; these, in fact, are the very gifts their society is most willing to grant them. The price they are expected to pay, however, is the same price the black man has been expected to pay, at least until very recently: they must "accept" their "condition", never show more of that wound than society thinks proper" (170).
In the following, we will examine the thesis of the limitation of social participation opportunities of disabled people on the basis of empirical conditions, namely in the public sector, in the housing sector as well as in the education and vocational sector.
For most physical disabilities, the most drastic consequences result from the restriction of physical mobility.
Architectural barriers in an environment that is tailored to the needs of non-disabled people increase mobility difficulties caused by disability, i.e. social isolation and dependence of disabled people result to a large extent from the conditions of an environment hostile to disability in which undoubtedly anti-disabled tendencies of society manifest themselves [in the most tangible way].
Architectural barriers in the public area result from stairs, steps in front of entrances, kerbstones, doors, etc. By far most public facilities are not accessible to wheelchair users. Here, massive criticism from associations of the disabled and representatives of journalistic interests such as Ernst Klee has meanwhile had its first successes: the recommendation adopted in 1959 by the Council of Europe to plan public buildings for the disabled was adopted 14 years later, namely in 1973, as a DIN standard in the Federal Republic of Germany (Klee, 1975a), the Federal Post Office has in the meantime set up numerous public telephone booths which can also be used by wheelchair users, kerbstones have been lowered at pedestrian crossings, i.e. also where the interests of disabled people are concerned, and not just the interests of car owners with tyre damage such as at garage exits with high kerbstones; our list could be continued.
This more recent development was very timid at first, which can certainly be traced back to the fact that financial expenditure is made for something that is not "worthwhile" in the eyes of those responsible without disabilities. In addition, there is no legal obligation, and so far only recommendations exist.
It has been pointed out on several occasions that measures to remove architectural barriers would benefit not only the relatively small group of physically handicapped people, but also all non-handicapped people, especially elderly people, children, pregnant women, mothers with pushchairs, etc. (Klee, 1976, 21; Safilios-Rothschild, 1976, 50), which makes the cost-benefit ratio considerably more favourable. Albrecht (1976a, 6) has stated for the USA that a very large number of disabled people are not employed simply because the transport problem seems insurmountable to them.
This brings us to the limitations of social participation opportunities of physically disabled people by obstacles in the area of public transport. Buses, trams, underground and railway cars are either not accessible to wheelchair users at all or only with the help of others because of high boarding steps, narrow doorways, central railings, etc..
Wheelchair travellers of the Deutsche Bundesbahn have to make do with their baggage carts and pay the full passenger fare as well as up to 15 dollars for the transport of the wheelchair, unless they belong to the privileged group of people who are handicapped by the consequences of war, traffic or accidents at work: their wheelchair is taken along free of charge (Klee, 1974a, 13; 1974f; 1978b) . Disabled passengers in the domestic service of airlines have to pay a special fee of 20 dollars, as Klee (1974a) reports, "because their carriage goes beyond normal expectations" (12).
For the parents of dysmelia children we interviewed, too, the transport problem was one of the aspects of disability that implied the greatest and most permanent difficulties. Anyone who once considers the crowds in public transport will understand why for some children with missing or malformed limbs the daily transport in a school bus has become a traumatic experience.
The use of leisure activities also causes major problems for the disabled due to environmental restrictions on mobility (Tews, 1975, 8f).
But even if he could overcome the architectural obstacles, most public leisure facilities such as cinemas, concert halls, theatres, museums, etc. would remain closed to the physically handicapped due to building regulations (Bauen für Körperbehinderte, 1968, 7; Klee, 1974a, 104).
The case of a young, physically handicapped Japanese woman who carried out an "assassination attempt" on Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" by spraying the artwork set up behind bulletproof bulletproof glass in a museum in Tokyo with red paint caused a lot of attention in the press. Her explanation: "Why don't you let handicapped people in?" ("Westfälische Nachrichten" v. 22. 4. 1974).
The bans on use (mentioned in Chapter 16.4) and the special swimming times in public swimming pools also contribute to the limited social participation of disabled people.
Area of home or housing
There is insufficient data available on the housing conditions of physically handicapped people. Apart from exceptions, homes for the disabled correspond to the characteristics of a "total institution" described by Goffman (1961a/1973a) . Seywald (1976, 44) comes to the conclusion that only a small part of the physically handicapped, and in particular severely handicapped persons in need of care, are isolated in special institutions. In general, these homes can only be regarded as mere custodial institutions. A differentiation between the different types of disability is rare.
Since acceptable alternatives are rare, the vast majority of physically disabled people live in flats that are not tailored to their needs. For wheelchair users, a special housing requirement of 65,000 flats was calculated (Klee, 1974a, 67f). It is now important to spread these dwellings within the residential areas of non-disabled people. This intention has been realised to some extent in the Danish "collective houses", the Swedish "focus high-rises"  or the Dutch "multiple-purpose residential centres": necessary service facilities for the disabled can be shared by non-disabled neighbours.
Interesting perspectives are also offered by a model programme "Development of new housing and lifestyles" of the Federal Association of the Disabled and their Friends, which is to be realised in Bergisch-Gladbach (Federal Association ..., 1977, 4lff). It remains to be seen, however, to what extent noteworthy approaches can actually be implemented here.
From cost reasons, such models were favored so far again and again, which plan a concentration of handicapped-fair housing units and special setups. The "Het Dorp" housing estate for the physically handicapped near Arnhem in the Netherlands became known: its own small town only for the handicapped. The ghetto character of this solution is obvious, as is the plan discussed after the thalidomide disaster to create a "small town for thalidomide children" (Regau, 1963). Certainly the suspicion of subliminal isolation tendencies of the non-disabled in such projects cannot be dismissed.
Those responsible have repeatedly pointed out that sufficient funds were available for the construction of housing suitable for the disabled, but that those concerned showed little interest in taking advantage of such housing offers. This may well be true and is understandable as long as the vast majority of such housing is concentrated in isolated special housing centres for the physically handicapped, which contradicts any social integration efforts.
Training and profession
The above-mentioned overemphasis on functional performance in industrial society has a particularly strong impact on the opportunities for disabled people to participate in the workplace. There, all requirements are oriented towards healthy, bodily normal, intact and fully capable employees.
"This regulatory aspect discriminates against those - for whatever reason - who are conditionally capable of performance and in the long term enforces their exclusion from working life. The social and human consequences of this orientation norm, which elevates a short-term economic way of thinking to the public standard of an evaluation of other people, are not taken into account" (v. Ferber, 1972, 38f).
Scott (1967, 160ff) has shown the transformation of sheltered workshops for the blind in the USA from primarily altruistic institutions to big business institutions. The same can be said for the "workshops for the disabled" (formerly "protective workshops") in Germany: they are pure production plants with the competitive advantage of extremely low wage costs. The disabled person is allowed to work for pocket money, but enjoys practically no protection under labour law (Klee, 1974a, 129ff).
There is a frightening shortage of special schools and training facilities for disabled children and young people (Deutscher Bildungsrat, 1974, l9ff) , and the rate of vocational reintegration for adult disabled people is still shamefully low by international standards (Seywald, 1976, 38f). Here the special "short-term nature" of the economic perspective v. Ferber speaks of becomes obvious, because vocational rehabilitation is worthwhile in any case. To the authors of the Spiegel Report on the handicapped, it also appears that "it is strange that the West German performance society, if its humanitarian claim is not enough to solve the problem of the disabled in a meaningful way, also violates its unwritten law: it seems to rebel against capitalism. The Americans are once again ahead. In the USA ... rehabilitation is regarded as the best business of the United States, because every dollar spent in this respect increases tenfold in the course of time due to the receding tax revenues" (Unterprivilegiert, 1973, 102).
Legislative measures to improve the employment opportunities of disabled people, according to which all employers of more than 16 jobs must employ 6% severely disabled people, are widely circumvented by paying a compensatory levy (Klee, 1976, l01ff): the resistance, however justifiable, against disabled employees seems to outweigh the financial condition.
However, public employers are by no means setting a good example, as should be expected, but are equally shirking the obligation to allow disabled people more "social" participation. The provisions of the Severely Disabled Persons Act are opposed by relevant paragraphs of the Federal Career Ordinance, which state that the recruitment of an applicant as a civil servant is in principle at the employer's free discretion, i.e. the disabled person cannot derive any legal claim to employment with the German federation, the states or the municipalities (Klee, 1974a, 128f).
Here again the ambivalence and contradictoriness of all social norms related to the problem of the handicapped becomes very clear: outwardly demonstrated progressiveness in the enforcement of constitutionally guaranteed rights, de facto fixing of the status quo characterized by tendencies of isolation and discrimination.
Several of the thalidomide-affected children from our case studies want to become teachers at a later date or strive for "safe" employment in the public sector. The desire for security is understandable and legitimate; the qualification cannot actually be denied because of the disability, but nevertheless, without prejudice to the principle of equality in Article 3 of the Basic Law, it will remain questionable for them until the end whether a civil service appointment will take place. Bläsig (1967, 130, 152f) rightly sharply criticised this situation.
The following case illustrates current practice: A blind pedagogue litigated for three years for her admission as a student trainee in the Baden-Württemberg school service and was always proved right by the judges, especially in view of the fact that many blind teachers in other federal states had already been working for years to the full satisfaction of their school authorities. However, the Ministry of Culture did not allow itself to be talked into its official rights and continued to reject her. One could "simply not imagine how Mrs. P ... She was afraid of the "discipline in the classroom", but even more of the horror vision of creating a "precedent" for crowds of physically handicapped people. According to the spokesman of the Ministry of Culture of Baden-Württemberg, "then there could be those who want to be employed by schools who have no arms, for example thalidomide victims". (Der Spiegel, No. 27 v. 30.6.1975).
What is right for the school must be certainly true also for the church. The deply discriminatory basic attitude of the Catholic Church is reflected in their explicit ban on physically deviating persons from their profession, which has been upheld to this day. In the by no means outdated "Codex Juris Canonici" no less than 984 physical defects are listed, if they exist the spiritual consecrations of the state are to be refused (Retzbach, 1953, 189).
A conclusion from the previous remarks in this chapter can only read: Disabled persons are denied participation in the most important areas of social life to an extent that cannot be justified by anything.
We now turn to the stigmatizing consequences of institutionalized behavior towards disabled persons in the field of rehabilitation, the field which, according to its mission and self-understanding, is supposed to facilitate the social participation of disabled persons in the first place.
Stigmatisation through rehabilitation
Already elsewhere it has been made clear what importance labeling theorists attach to the work of institutions of social control in the social production of deviant identity. We have also presented our own point of view, which assumes a primacy of so-called informal labeling at the level of interaction for persons with obvious primary deviation such as the physically disabled. Nevertheless, it must be seen that full-time "attribution specialists" (Lofland, 1969) also contribute substantially to the stigmatization of clients in the field of resocialization and rehabilitation, above all due to their high power of definition within the framework of a bureaucratically efficient organization. In order to clarify the relationship and interaction of informal and formal stigmatization, we revert to Scott's treatise on socialization in the role of the "blind" (1969, 16ff): According to it, the first basis is the mediation of cultural and social reality through stigmatized persons or groups of persons in primary childhood socialization, i.e. the acquisition of attitudes. A second context is represented by the interactions between the blind and the seeing (the disabled and the non-disabled): the expectations about the behavior of blind persons, such as the situation of interaction characterized by tension and insecurity itself, reinforce the conviction that the disabled are quite "different". Finally, the stigmatisation effect of becoming a client of a rehabilitation centre or an organisation providing care for the disabled is important. This latter, formal type of stigmatization is what we will address in the following.
The ambivalence of society towards the disabled, which has been mentioned several times, is also reflected in the work of its rehabilitation institutions.
Deviating behaviour (here: disability) and social control of this deviation in the form of punishment or also treatment or care belong directly together (cf. e.g. Cohen, 1968). Rehabilitation is an institutionalised form of social control; its official task is to help the disabled person "overcome" his or her deviation. Now, however, there are many indications that this help, combined with the clear demand on the person concerned to actively support the institutionalized efforts through personal initiative and "good will", remains limited to the professional and the "dependency aspect of the deviation caused by the disability, while the actual "social" deviation is hardly touched by it. "The latter type of deviance (social deviance; G.C.), then, is not only tolerated and accepted, but even expected and fostered by society. No attempt is made to correct this deviance. On the contrary, those disabled who ... are willing to accept the imposed social and emotional segregation are in a sense "rewarded" for remaining deviant" (Safilios-Rothschild, 1970, 116). [This is a key statement of this text - it explains why prosthetic arms must be both visible and incapable].
Rehabilitation institutions thus ultimately contribute to a high degree to stigmatisation by socialising the disabled person into their designated, assigned, attributed, commanded deviant social role. Safilios-Rothschild (1970) concludes from this: "It seems that the key to remaining "normal" (that is, nondisabled) is not the absolute state of health or ability but rather the lack of a societal label of deviance" (116), the imposition of which is decisively forced by contacts with institutions of rehabilitation and care.
Scott (1969, 7lff) convincingly presented the stigmatization process by special organizations on the basis of extensive empirical research for the blind group.
First, the sight of the person concerned is checked by professional experts (ophthalmologist) and, if necessary, if certain formalized criteria are not met, the definition as "blind person" is made. Regardless of whether or not someone has felt blind up to now: the doctor's expertise, endowed with expert authority, now has official validity for him as well as for his environment. One of the special organizations for blind people is taking care of him. These organisations have an exact idea (or ideology) about the problems of blind people and do their utmost to persuade the new client to adopt their definition of their problem. This happens in the course of a socialisation process based on learning theory: conformity is rewarded, resistance is negatively sanctioned by threat or actual withdrawal of basic help. The goal is the smooth acceptance of a new deviant identity as a blind person.
In practice, there are two main ideologies about the "right" treatment of blind people: the "restorative approach", which assumes that blind people can be enabled to lead a largely independent and "normal" life, and the "accommodative approach", which considers such a degree of independence to be an unrealistic goal and seeks to adapt the blind person to the special circumstances within the organization. According to Scott, most organizations for the blind are bound by the preservation ideology of the latter approach, although they also outwardly praise the progressive "restorative approach".
The two approaches basically only reflect the ambivalent attitude of society as a whole towards the disabled. Greater public support is given to the "accommodative approach", in line with the prevailing isolation tendencies in society. This results in a vicious circle, which is characterized by the fact that rehabilitation - as it is generally practiced - stands in the way of an effective social integration of the disabled person: Community attitudes lead to accommodative agency orientations, which in turn have distinct effects upon the behavior and selfconcepts of the clients, which in turn uphold and reinforce the pre-existing attitudes of the sighted" (Schur, 1971, 94) . Scott's analysis can easily be applied to persons with other disabilities and the work of other rehabilitation institutions. For it is always typical that the disabled person must first accept his or her deviant condition if he or she wants to benefit from rehabilitation services.
"The physically disabled individual is considered deviant by the "experts" if he expresses unwillingness to give up the rights of the able-bodied. Most often, the sanction is severe ond clear-cut: no access to rehabilitation facilities ... until the disabled role is accepted" (Safilios-Rothschild, 1976, 43).
Rehabilitation facilities are highly bureaucratised and formalised, i.e. they are strongly oriented towards economic principles of effectiveness. This is why the selection of clients is highly selective. Only the disabled, who have a good chance of success from the outset, can benefit from (almost exclusively) vocational rehabilitation services: old, multiple and severely handicapped, members of the lower class, etc., in short, all persons for whom the chance of a restoration-long work force is low, remain offside because the effort is "not worthwhile" (Scott, 1969, 69f; Safilios-Rothschild, 1970, 171f; Klee, 1974a, 88f, 122ff).
Here we come again to the fact that stigmatization processes are easiest to enforce against those persons and groups who have little power (Hohmeier, 1975, 9). In our case studies, for example, such parents suffered most from bureaucratic arbitrariness on the part of the institutions endowed with rehabilitation powers, whose low social status justified a financial dependence on the goodwill of the rehabilitation providers.
"In the case of H.H., profound psychological disorders had occurred after the financing of new leg prostheses for the four-year-old girl had been repeatedly refused on the grounds that she was still growing and that new prostheses would only be available to her when a sufficiently long period of use could be expected once the growth in length had been completed. H's understandable wish for a jewellery prosthesis was dismissed as "nonsense", the claim to a technically modern design with hydraulics, which would have made stair climbing possible and guaranteed greater independence from outside help, went far beyond "the framework of what was necessary". The H. family finally resigned themselves to the arbitrariness of the clerk with official authority. What remained was the impotent anger at the "narrow-mindedness of those up there". - The K. family, on the other hand, had written to the Federal Minister of Health in a similar situation and asserted their claim.
Anyone who earns so little that he is entitled to subsidies under the German Federal Social Assistance Act (BSHG) usually has to go through the official process of appeal in degrading petition. Klee (1974a, 110ff) gives examples of the procedure for prosthesis replacement and the "granting" of assistance for the procurement of a motor vehicle for a disabled person "for the purpose of his integration, especially into working life" (110). After a gruelling exchange of paragraph-studded pleadings, the application was finally rejected - after almost two years: the use of public transport and the patient's chair was quite reasonable (112).
Bureaucratic principles determine far-reaching future decisions for the disabled. The thalidomide child S.S. remained at the Hauptschule despite his good qualifications, because the Episcopal Vicariate General, as the responsible body of a denominationally bound grammar school, did not want to take over the travel costs: because he exceeded a distance limit by a few hundred metres.
Those who cannot help themselves have to submit themselves mutely and adapted to the orders of the decision-makers. From the case study H.S.: "One day an official letter came. H.S.'s parents were told that they had to deliver their child a few days later to a home school for the physically handicapped 70 km away. H. was well integrated into the local secondary school. It had also not been considered necessary to first explore the will of the parents. Research showed that the newly opened special school was completely understaffed."
The extent to which a handicapped person accepts the threat of stigmatization as fateful or successfully resists it is largely determined by the extent of the resources - especially economic resources - that he or those close to him are able to mobilize (Schur, 1971, 66ff).
The chances of rehabilitation and the seriousness of medical efforts increase the higher the social stratification of the disabled person is. Safilios-Rothschild (1970) comments: "Despite the fact that physicians are expected to be "affective neutral" and use "universalistic" criteria in offering their services ... there is ample evidence that they are greatly affected by the patients characteristics, especially social class. Treatment is clearly stratified according to social class both at the doctor's office and at a clinic or hospital. The higher the patient's social class, the better treatment he receives, the greater the experience and reputation of the physician ..., the more time the physician spends with the patient, and the harder he tries to return him to health" (70).
In an evaluation of 200 files on thalidomide cases, we found the following relationship between social class and medical care: Parents of the lower class gave an average of 3.03 data on physician consultations with their thalidomid-damaged child, 3.80 for parents of the lower and middle middle classes and 4.33 for parents of the upper middle class.
Since the assessment of the damage caused by thalidomide was essentially based on the medical documents available to the commissions, such as medical reports, x-rays, etc., parents who were able to provide as many complete and accurate documents as possible were at an advantage when calculating the amount of compensation. If the parents had consulted many doctors and clinics, which required personal and generally also financial commitment, then there were many evaluation documents, and some of the damages included in the evaluation may have been discovered only after detailed examination by specialists. In this respect, assuming a stratum-independent distribution of thalidomide damage, it can be assumed that there is not only a link between social stratum membership and the quality of medical care, but also between social stratum membership and the amount of compensation awarded.
All our informants expressed harsh criticism of the actions of doctors and medical care in hospitals, unless they had been treated as private patients. Even if one takes into account a certain overreaction due to the extent of unpleasant contacts with medical institutions caused by disabilities, the unanimous complaints about the "inaccessibility" of doctors give cause for thought, since they agree with the observations of a broad patient public.
Typical statements were: "One is treated like a zero" (G.H.); "they don't say anything, think you're stupid", "they act over our heads" (V.R.); "nobody says what's really going on" (U.W.); "they are really narrow-minded" (H.H.). Besides obvious wrong decisions, several parents accused the doctors of abusing their handicapped children as "guinea pigs" (V.R.) and of enforcing the "eternal torment" (C.H.) by constantly new examinations and treatment appointments on the basis of their own interests, without helping the children. This is all "loveless, mere routine, a few broken limbs more or less, they don't even notice! (S.S.) A father summarized it this way: "With the Thalidomide children so much has already been done, they should leave us finally in peace and not again and again as an interesting case, that does not help us further, that only stirs up everything again! (H. H.)
As far as thalidomide children are concerned, we are convinced that medical research, combined with legal meticulousness, has unnecessarily intensified stigmatisation processes in countless cases by, after years of relative consolidation, citing thalidomide damaged children, especially in the particularly critical developmental phase of puberty, for a thorough "follow-up" before the official experts to determine all the damage caused by "thalidomide" and providing them with new fright diagnoses: "scoliosis (spinal damage); hip misalignment; shortening of the legs as a result of postural deformities caused by disabilities etc." 93] Operative corrections were recommended, further late damage was promised, for many patients the term "multiple handicapped" was put on record for the first time: another blow for some parents who had observed with pride and joy that their child had so far developed "quite normally" despite disability.
It must be seen that expert diagnoses are milestones in the creation and consolidation of "damaged identity" (Goffman) of disabled people. Diagnoses are the official evidence of his "otherness"; once on record, he will have to live his life accordingly, and his environment will gain important clues for its future attitude towards "such a person". For many disabled people who are exposed to particularly strong isolation tendencies, diagnoses have absolutely fateful and irreversible consequences.
In this respect, the above-mentioned stigmatisation performance of experts as attribution specialists is also confirmed here.
Our analysis of the manifestations of formal social reactions to physically deviating persons has been comparatively brief. This corresponds to our assessment of the greater significance of informal stigmatisation processes for persons with physical deviations.
Nevertheless, it remains to be stated in summary that rehabilitation institutions in particular make a decisive contribution to the stigmatisation of disabled persons by preventing comprehensive social rehabilitation in the sense of superficial efficiency and instead promoting the assumption of the deviating role of the disabled. From this point of view, they undoubtedly serve the interests of a healthy majority rather than those of the disabled.
On the question of the social reaction on the behavioural level, we had empirical material available which can hardly be quantified according to statistical criteria, but which, in our estimation, in its rather descriptive character reveals very meaningful elements.
It seems indisputable to us that visible physical disabilities usually cause psycho-physical reactions such as anxiety, affective excitement and discomfort in the non-disabled. On this basis, "pathological" forms of interaction between the disabled and non-disabled develop: tension, behavioural insecurity and ambivalence make social situations of this kind highly unpleasant experiences for those involved, which one tries to avoid in anticipation. The extensive isolation of physically deviant persons at the interpersonal level must be seen as a direct consequence of this attitude.
Apart from the global tendency to avoid interaction, a number of typical forms of social reaction can be observed, which we have discussed primarily on the basis of examples from our case studies. Almost all of these behaviors ultimately contribute to the stigmatization of physically deviant individuals. Individual stigmatization processes are complemented and reinforced by those that take place at the institutional level. The social participation of the physically handicapped is limited in many ways. Particularly critical is the work of the rehabilitation institutions, which, due to their current self-image, hardly appear to be suitable for achieving a fundamental social integration of physically deviating persons.
The aim of the present work was to provide a comprehensive description and critique of empirical contributions to the question of social reaction in the form of attitudes and behaviour towards physically deviating persons. To this end, we have analyzed 403 individual studies with a goal to making useful statements about the possible determinants of this social response. In addition, the results of our own case studies of dysmelia children were used.
In Part I of the paper we first determined the most important terms in connection with our topic. Subsequently, theoretical approaches to the problem of the social reaction to disabled persons were presented and discussed, whereby we distinguished between psychoanalytically oriented, psychological, socio-psychological and sociological approaches in an ideal-typical way. The emphasis was on sociological considerations based on the labeling approach.
By discussing theoretical contributions on the problem of attitudes and behaviour towards disabled persons, we wanted to show the whole spectrum of possible starting points on the one hand, and on the other hand to relieve the systematic analysis of empirical studies in the second part of the work from any overly excessive discussion of theoretical foundations.
Finally, we wanted to highlight a number of common features of the social science approaches presented, which make an integrative perspective and research strategy with regard to the problem of "social reaction to the physically handicapped" appear meaningful.
In particular, we have pointed out
- aspects related to the central aspect of fear that non-disabled people exhibit,
- the notion of the endangerment of certain states of equilibrium by the current or anticipated confrontation with a physically deviant person,
- the obvious points of contact between the sociological stigma concept and the socio-psychological attitude concept.
It was not our intention to make our own theoretical contribution to the proposed gradual integration of divergent explanatory attempts within the framework of this work. Rather, our considerations should be understood as suggestions for further research in sociology of the disabled. An appropriate starting point is the interactionist view with the stigma concept related to the disabled.
Part II dealt with the results of empirical research. The abundance and heterogeneity of the material to be processed necessitated a predominantly descriptive presentation. We have endeavoured to keep the length of the explanations within reasonable limits and to progressively develop our own accompanying argumentation.
The discussion of the empirical investigations took place on the one hand on the level of attitudes towards disabled people, whereby the theoretical background was primarily social-psychological attitudes and prejudice research, and on the other hand on the level of behaviour towards disabled people with orientation to the sociological stigmat theory. This analytical separation between attitudes on the one hand and behaviour on the other had mainly representational reasons. From a theoretical point of view, both levels can be subsumed under the umbrella term of social reaction.
After presenting all available empirical studies in the form of a tabular overview, we first briefly described the most important theoretical foundations of the attitude concept and, in particular, problematized the postulate of a predictor function of attitudes with regard to actual behavior. The basic principles of empirical social research were also explained, as well as reaction tendencies such as akquiescence and social desirability as very serious sources of error, especially in the recording of attitudes towards disabled persons.
The question of whether the measured attitudes can be attributed a specific quality such as "positive" or "negative" was decided by us in such a way that no definition is possible here. Generalizing ideas about "society's attitude towards physically disabled persons" (Jansen, 1972) or "prejudices against disabled children, their families and schools" (v. Brocken, 1976) are to be rejected in any case.
On the basis of the results of several hundred studies, what can be said about the question of attitudes towards physically deviating persons? What are the decisive determinants of these attitudes?
The type of disability, but especially the extent of its visibility and the extent to which it impairs the fulfilment of socially highly valued functions, is of considerable importance for the attitude towards the disabled. Mental deviations are rated significantly less favourably than physical deviations. However, the difference is gradual, and the structure of the attitude itself seems to be hardly affected. Moreover, many disabilities can be distinguished by medical criteria, but not by their stimulus value for a particular social response.
The influence of socio-economic or demographic characteristics on attitudes is comparatively small within the realm of anti-disability attitudes. We were only able to establish significant correlations for the variables of gender and age: Women seem to accept disabled people more than men, older people are somewhat more negative than younger people. As far as the variables level of education and knowledge about disabled people as well as class affiliation are concerned, we were not able to make a final assessment because of numerous contradictions and obvious methodological weaknesses in the studies analysed. There are no links between attitudes towards disabled people and the profession, ethical origin, denomination, place of residence and marital status of the recruitment subjects.
Contact with people with disabilities is an important factor in recruitment, but it does not necessarily lead to positive attitudes, as some claim. Many constraints (type and quality of contact, the social situation in which it is embedded, voluntary nature of the relationship, etc.) must be met if contact is not to have adverse effects on attitudes towards disabled people. People who, for example, have a lot to do with people with disabilities because of their professional activities are not always characterised by more positive attitudes despite a high contact frequency. The relationship seems to be extremely complicated, but opens up promising perspectives for further research.
Apart from the nature of the disability itself, we have hardly been able to identify clear determinants of attitudes towards disabled people. This indicates that we are obviously dealing with a remarkably rigid, very fundamental and uniform attitude within our particular culture(s). Because of the disability-specific differences in attitudes, the violation of socio-culturally conditioned standards can be assumed to be the decisive criterion.
Our analysis of studies on the question of the cultural conditionality of attitudes towards people with disabilities had shown that the question of the cultural conditionality of attitudes towards people with disabilities was a decisive criterion:
- There is an interculturally uniform basic attitude towards physically disabled persons: physically deviating persons are consistently rated more negatively than persons without physical deficiencies. Even in an intercultural comparison, similarities predominate.
- A certain intercultural variability in overall attitudes towards physically deviating persons is undisputed on the basis of empirical evidence. The overall attitude thus seems to be given its specific character by intercultural differences in the emphasis on certain social values.
- Within a given culture, the overall attitude towards physically deviating persons is relatively uniform. This cultural uniformity is based on socio-culturally-historically grown convictions that are conveyed in socialisation processes, according to which a physically deviant person contradicts fundamental social values (in our cultural sphere) such as health, beauty, physical integrity and performance.
A special feature of the analysis of attitudes towards physically deviating persons is that, in contrast to other violations of social norms, no official social sanctions can be imposed here. However, negative attitudes are equally functional for the individual as for the social system in that they counteract the threat of states of equilibrium (identity balance or system stability) by the disabled person. These negative attitudes are conveyed to the individual through socialization contents and practices in which...:
- physical deviation is linked to "evil" and "bad", and
- is threatened with illness or disability as a "punishment" for "guilt".
On the other hand, society denies the individual any official explicit justification for their "living out", "acting out", for their constant "enactment" of such once installed and then continuously intensified affective tendencies against disabled persons.
The non-disabled thus gets into a normative conflict, having to represent said society in any given situation with a disabled person, being the "front line soldier" that implicitly is supposed to "defend" society's norms, which risks to intensify psychological phenomena such as fear, aggression and feelings of guilt and tends to cause persons with a less stable personality structure in particular by seeking instant relief by mobilizing defence mechanisms which ultimately determine their reaction to the disabled person in an even more unfavourable way.
If this train of thought is right...:
- The circumstances will demonstrate the social reaction towards physically deviating persons based on a fundamental congruence of interests between the non-disabled and society at the informal level of interactions rather than at the formal level of social institutions. According to our analysis, this is true: the social reaction to physically disabled persons is predominantly informal, there is no clear formal sanctioning as with other forms of deviant behaviour.
- Depending on the personality structure of individual non-disabled persons, certain personality-specific expressions of the social reaction to disabled persons would then have to be demonstrated.
The assumption frequently made in the literature that the so-called prejudiced personality has a particularly negative attitude towards disabled people has been the subject of a whole series of recruitment studies. The result was that the influence of individual personality variables is quite modest according to statistical criteria. However, the considerable methodological difficulties in recording characteristics of the (not abnormal) personality must be taken into account. By cumulating various factors in "extreme" personality profiles, however, it is quite possible that individual attitudes towards the disabled are clearly influenced.
Although extreme rejection, which is predominantly based on unusual personality constellations of the hiring person, is likely to occur rarely, it must be taken very seriously because of the extraordinary consequences of stigmatisation. For this reason alone, a more precise knowledge of the connections between personality traits and attitudes towards the disabled would be desirable.
The assumption that especially persons with ego weakness, anxious, dogmatic and ambiguity-intolerant persons tend to reject the handicapped rather than persons without such characteristics is, in our opinion, not to be dismissed if one considers the high intercorrelations between the individual characteristics mentioned, which underline the syndrome character of the whole.
In a summarizing evaluation of the findings of empirical studies on attitudes towards people with disabilities, the considerable methodological weaknesses of a large part of the present studies had to be taken into account.
We had discussed the main shortcomings:
- Distortions in the sample selection and exaggerated interpretation of the data;
- Weaknesses of the measuring instruments used;
- Underestimation of the falsifying influence of social desirability on the study results;
- Overestimation of knowledge about disabilities as an indication of positive attitudes towards disabled people;
- Misjudgement of the problem associated with the use of verbal stimuli to measure attitudes.
The distortion caused by "socially desirable" answers is likely to reach a high degree because of the normative conflict in which the non-disabled person finds himself, especially when it comes to recording attitudes towards physically deviating persons.
Despite all the criticism, the fundamental justification and significance of researching attitudes towards the disabled could not be called into question. However, we have pointed out that:
- greater attention should be paid to the methodological weaknesses identified, in particular when interpreting the results of investigations, and
- in view of the obvious shortcomings of quantitative methods, it is necessary to supplement recruitment research by recording actual behaviour towards people with disabilities, particularly with the aid of qualitative methods.
We have tried to respond to the latter aspect in our comments on behaviour towards physically deviating persons, paying particular attention to the results of the case studies as a methodological alternative to quantitative methods.
Overall, the picture of social reaction at the recruitment level could be supplemented and confirmed; there were no significant contradictions. This is not to suggest that we regard attitudes as good predictors of actual behaviour: the relationship between attitudes and behaviour towards people with disabilities could naturally only be discussed marginally in our work. After all, we had found a number of studies which reported a large correspondence between attitudes and behaviour. We would then assess the predictor quality of attitudes as useful. In general, recorded attitudes towards people with disabilities contain a greater falsification towards the positive than actually observed or reported behaviour. Behavioural attitudes are more likely to be inferred from attitudes than vice versa.
It is not without problems to assume a certain "quality" of social reaction to physically deviating persons at all.
The question of the "quality of stigmatization" of this social reaction seems more meaningful to us, and here our answer is unequivocal: the social reaction to physically deviating persons contributes greatly to the stigmatization of those concerned. This stigmatization effect is relatively independent of the intention of the individual non-disabled person: the current or anticipated social interaction with a physically disabled person is usually accompanied by such psycho-physical mal sensations that the extraordinarily rigid, rejecting basic attitude experiences at most a continuous hardening, and this applies to the vast majority of non-disabled persons, as we have seen in the results of research on professionals and family members of disabled persons.
The "pathological" basic structure of the interaction between disabled and non-disabled people, characterised by tension, behavioural uncertainty and feelings of ambivalence, must be regarded as proven, as must the resulting tendencies to avoid interaction. A considerable degree of social isolation and restriction of social participation of physically deviant persons, which the rehabilitation institutions are hardly able to counteract, is one of the particularly serious and critical aspects of social reaction. The qualification of forms of reaction as "positive" or "negative" does not alter the stigmatisation effect: the stigmatisation of physically deviant persons by their social environment is an undisputed empirical fact.
At the end of our work, it remains to be said that many questions remain unsolved.
We now know a great deal about the social reaction itself. We know that it is based on an extraordinarily rigid and hardly influenceable basic attitude. We know that it is essentially cultural. We know that there are individual differences, but they are quite modest compared with the basic attitude. We know that the nature of the disability, especially its visibility, is of great importance.
But we still know too little about the possibilities of changing this social reaction, about the opposite process of destigmatization. This should be the focus of future work. Some hints can be derived from the results of our work:
In view of a very stable and rigid basic attitude, the available scope for changes in attitudes and behaviour is relatively small.
The decisive point is the cultural conditionality of the social reaction.
The overemphasis on values such as physical integrity, performance, beauty, etc. in our culture promotes an unfavourable, distancing attitude towards physically deviant persons. The shift from "comparative" to "asset" values suggested by Wright (1960) does not seem hopeless as a long-term goal.
The increasing problematization of the performance principle, as is evident, for example, from the growing public unease about ecological grievances, could bring about changes in the value structure. Also the shifts in the quantitative relation between the non-disabled and the disabled, caused by the higher life expectancy, increased frequency of accidents, etc., no longer permit a blatant distancing from the ever-increasing minority of disabled people without further ado. However, it is precisely this frequently discussed aspect (e.g. Safilios-Rothschild, 1970, 297f) that also bears the danger of an increasing demarcation from the disabled, because the threat orientation of the majority increases with the strengthening of a minority.
Attitudes and behaviour towards physically deviating persons are largely irrational and affectively determined. It will therefore hardly be possible to bring about a change by primarily addressing the cognitive level. This applies to all forms of information, enlightenment and educational measures, as well as to destigmatization through laws (Lautmann, 1975).
Contacts between disabled and non-disabled people are in principle a good starting point; we have pointed out the numerous ancillary conditions. An important prerequisite for the maintenance of such "difficult" interaction relationships, however, is the strengthening of "identity-promoting abilities" (Krappmann, 1969) such as role distance, empathy, ambiguity intolerance and ego strength.
One very decisive aspect must not go unmentioned in all this: Destigmatisation can only be successful if the handicapped people concerned cooperate. In contrast to the non-disabled, the disabled person can be expected to be highly motivated. In view of the extraordinary rigidity that we have demonstrated in the attitudes of the non-disabled, the chances of a short to medium-term changeability of the social reaction are rather pessimistic. It would certainly not be a bad recipe to convey more understanding for the disadvantaged fellow human beings, more "education" in the material, in the social and in the affects, as Mitscherlich (1963, 23ff) convincingly suggested, - if this were not opposed by our social reality, in which priorities are set differently, in which a radical return to the intended basic values is still a long time coming.
The handicapped persons can no longer be expected to wait, they will have to take over the active part. The most important goal would therefore be to impart knowledge about the basics of the negative social reaction, especially about the difficulties of the non-disabled person in mixed interaction situations.
The disabled person should be enabled to take control of the interaction and thus free the non-disabled person from his or her behavioural insecurity. Strengthening the disabled person's ability to act is the first step towards normalising pathological interaction. Here, with the ability to interact as the existential basis of all social relationships, a start must be made if a modification of the social reaction is not ultimately to remain a utopia. For a committed sociology of the disabled, there is a wealth of worthwhile and realistic research goals in the entire problem area of the destigmatisation of the disabled.
- From Wikipedia [link]: Fürsteneck als Sitz des Pfleggerichtes wurde 1703 Schauplatz eines Hexenprozesses. Dieses Pfleggericht des Hochstiftes Passau wurde 1803 mit dem größten Teil des hochstiftlichen Gebietes zugunsten Ferdinands von Toskana säkularisiert. Seit den Friedensverträgen von Brünn und Preßburg 1805 gehört der Ort zu Bayern. Im Zuge der Verwaltungsreformen in Bayern entstand mit dem Gemeindeedikt von 1818 die heutige Gemeinde. -- Verhinderung einer Behindertenwohnstätte: Bundesweite Aufmerksamkeit unter dem Titel „Jagdszenen in Niederbayern“ erlangte der Weiler Aumühle in der Gemeinde Fürsteneck (heute ein Ortsteil von Hutthurm) als die lokale Bevölkerung am 17. Oktober 1969 den Bezug eines Heimes für schwer erziehbare und geistig behinderte Kinder verhinderte. Der Praktische Arzt Fritz Loew hatte das Anwesen vom Bischöflichen Ordinariat Passau erworben, um dort sein drittes Kinderheim zu errichten. Als am 17. Oktober die ersten sieben zukünftigen behinderten Buben mit ihren Betreuern ankamen, wurden sie von einer hundertköpfigen Protestmannschaft („Die Depperln woll’n mir hier net“) unter der Führung des Pfarrers Georg Stetter empfangen. Angesichts der Drohkulisse machten die Schützlinge von Loew wieder kehrt. In der darauffolgenden Nacht fand eine Nachtwache mit etwa 40 Fürsteneckern statt. Trotz der anwesenden Feuerwehrmänner ging die ehemalige Pension in Flammen auf. Nach eigenen Aussagen waren Gegner vor allem wegen möglicher geschäftlicher Einbußen im Tourismus und nicht aufgrund von Animositäten gegenüber Behinderten zu ihrem Tun motiviert.
- From [link]: 2. Juni 2013, 9:34 Uhr
Vom Heim zum Motorradklub:Trügerische Idylle in Niederbayern
An der ehemaligen Aumühle bei Fürsteneck haben sich 1969 "Jagdszenen in Niederbayern" abgespielt, die bundesweit für Aufsehen und Empörung sorgten. Heute residiert dort ein Motorradklub, der auch schon mehrmals ins Visier der Ermittler geraten ist
Von Karl Stankiewitz und Wolfgang Wittl
Aus Quellsümpfen und Hochmooren herab springen Bäche über bemooste Steine und Felsgeröll. Boote gleiten über den Fluss, den man die "schwarze Perle des Bayerischen Waldes" nennt. Ein märchenhafter Schluchtwald voller Erlen, Silberweiden und Farne säumt die von Wanderwegen begleiteten Ufer. 60 Meter über dem Talgrund thront das mittelalterliche Schloss Fürsteneck. Dahinter ducken sich Dörfer, die München und Prag heißen.
Wo die Große Ohe in die größere Ilz mündet, zweigt ein Steg vom einstigen Triftsteig ab. Am anderen Ufer befinden sich drei frisch gekalkte Häuser. Ein Schild soll Wanderer vom Betreten des Grundstücks abhalten. Über der Haustür steht: "Imperium MC Deutschland". Der Hinweis prangt an der ehemaligen Aumühle, die als Stützpunkt einem Motorradklub Heimat bietet. Der zeigt seine Gesinnung deutlich genug an: Das Hausschild zieren Reichsadler, Eichenlaub und eine geballte Faust.
Aumühle? Schon einmal brachte es dieser Ort, eine der schönsten Flusslandschaften Bayerns, zu überregionaler Aufmerksamkeit. Zeitungen aus ganz Deutschland berichteten über eine schaurige Geschichte, betitelt mit "Jagdszenen in Niederbayern" - ähnlich dem aufsehenerregenden Bühnenstück von Martin Sperr.
"Die Depperl woll'n mir hier net"
Es war Herbst 1969, als in der 960-Seelen-Gemeinde Fürsteneck bekannt wurde, dass das Bischöfliche Ordinariat Passau die Aumühle an den praktischen Arzt Fritz Loew verkauft hatte. Loew, einer philanthropischen jüdischen Familie entstammend, wollte dort schwer erziehbare und geistig behinderte Kinder unterbringen, er hatte schon zwei Heime eingerichtet. In der Aumühle sollte es nie dazu kommen.
"Die Depperl woll'n mir hier net", reagierte eine lautstarke Mehrheit der Fürstenecker, voran ihr Pfarrer Georg Stetter. Am 17. Oktober versammelten sich mehr als hundert Dorfbewohner vor der Aumühle, als sieben Buben samt Fürsorgerin und Heimleiter einem Kleinbus entstiegen. Drohende Worte und Gebärden zwangen sie zur Umkehr. Pfarrer Stetter organisierte eine "Nachtwache". Etwa 40 Fürstenecker, darunter der Bürgermeister und die halbe Feuerwehr, versammelten sich um ein Lagerfeuer, über dem sie Schweinshaxen grillten. Die Schlossbrauerei stiftete dazu zwölf Kisten Bier. Es wurde, wie Stetter später sagte, "ganz fidel und munter".
Mitten in der feuchtfröhlichen Siegesfeier schlugen Flammen aus einem Anbau der Aumühle. Die Feuerwehren aus den Nachbardörfern München und Prag, die zu Hilfe kamen, wurden von angeheiterten Fürsteneckern am Löschen gehindert. Aus Prag eilte auch Heimleiter Georg Villain herbei. Man hielt ihn für den bösen Doktor Loew. "Des is er, derschlagt's ihn, den Saujud!" Ein Dutzend Burschen stürzten sich auf den 58-Jährigen. Sogar ein Feuerwehrmann prügelte auf ihn ein. Mit schweren Verletzungen kam der Mann ins Krankenhaus. "Aus dem schönen Haus ist über Nacht zum 18. Oktober 1969 ein Mahnmal niederbayrischer, ja nationaler Schande geworden", schrieb der Spiegel damals.
Anzeige gegen den Pfarrer
Der Arzt Loew erstattete Anzeige gegen den Pfarrer - wegen Brandstiftung. Eine sechsköpfige Sonderkommission der Kripo stieß aber auf eine "Mauer des Schweigens". Das Bistum schickte den Pfarrer "wegen extremer Äußerungen" in Urlaub, die Landjugend der Diözese wollte die Treibjagd durch Hilfe beim Wiederaufbau des Heimes sühnen. Aber die Leute von Fürsteneck blieben stur. Sie boykottierten den als Amtsverweser eingesetzten Pfarrer von Perlesreut; sie sagten eine Hochzeit ab und sammelten 50.000 Mark, um notfalls eine eigene Kirche zu errichten.
"Gott hat Sympathie mit uns", verkündete der beurlaubte Pfarrer seiner Gemeinde, er drohte sogar mit Kirchenaustritt. Schließlich kam es doch zu einem Prozess in Passau, die Anklage lautete auf Landfriedensbruch. Der Pfarrer und die anderen Angeklagten wurden freigesprochen. Stetter durfte in sein Pfarrheim zurück, er wurde sogar zum Geistlichen Rat befördert. Nach seinem Tod kam das Gerücht auf, er sei ermordet worden. Sein Leichnam wurde exhumiert, ohne Ergebnis. Die Aumühle kaufte ein reicher Mann aus der Oberpfalz, er wollte im Auwald ein Gourmetlokal etablieren. Das ging nicht lange gut.
Dubioser neuer Pächter
Leer stand dann die Mühle am rauschenden Bach, bis besagter Rockerklub sie pachtete. Der Klub betreibe "eine sehr globale Politik", heißt es auf seiner Internetseite, in deren Gästebuch sich schon Kameraden aus Tirol eingetragen haben. International formuliert ist auch der Slogan: "Imperium forever - forever Imperium", doch "das Abzeichen und die Schriften des Imperium MC Deutschland wurden bewusst deutsch gehalten", wie in altdeutscher Schrift zu lesen ist.
Die Kennzeichen werden so erklärt: Der Reichsadler zeuge von Größe und Stärke, das Eichenlaub von Ehre und Erfolg, die geballte Faust sei Ausdruck für Kraft und Durchsetzungsvermögen. Im Nationalsozialismus prangte an dieser Stelle ein Hakenkreuz, doch "mit rechtsgerichtetem Gedankengut" habe man "nichts zu tun".
Etwa 20 Mitglieder zählt der Klub nach Angaben des Polizeipräsidiums Niederbayern. Man distanziere sich "von jeglicher kriminellen Handlung", teilt der MC Imperium mit. Das scheint nicht immer zu gelingen. Ermittlungen gegen einzelne Mitglieder führten laut Polizei bereits "zu strafprozessualen Maßnahmen", jedoch "in keiner Weise als gravierend".
Bei Großrazzien in diesem und im vergangenen Jahr, als in Ostbayern Hunderte Gebäude nach Waffen und Drogen durchsucht wurden, sollen sich Ermittler auch im Klubheim des MC Imperium umgesehen haben. Rechtsextreme Umtriebe seien nicht bekannt.
Gefährliche Legende aus den USA
Alarmierender ist ein Ring, den die geballte Faust des Klubwappens zeigt: "1%" - es ist das Zeichen für sogenannte one-percenter, für besonders harte Typen. Es geht auf eine Legende aus den USA zurück, wonach nur ein Prozent von Bikern tatsächlich gewaltbereit seien. Das stimme bedenklich, verlautet aus Ermittlerkreisen. In Fürsteneck heißt es, mit dem Klub habe es "noch nie Probleme" gegeben.
Weshalb aber diese einschlägige Symbolik - noch dazu an einem Ort mit dieser Vergangenheit? Eine dem Klub nahestehende Person spricht von "eher provokant" ausgerichtetem, mitunter typischen Auftreten von Rockern - die offensichtlich am liebsten unter sich sind. "Privatbesitz. Betreten verboten. Scharfe Wachhunde", steht auf dem Eingangsschild: "Überlebende werden strafrechtlich verfolgt."
ENGLISH TRANSLATION (automatic):
From home to motorcycle club: Deceptive idyll in Lower Bavaria
At the former Aumühle near Fürsteneck in 1969 "hunting scenes in Lower Bavaria" took place, which caused a sensation and indignation nationwide. Today a motorcycle club resides there, which has already been targeted several times by the investigators.
From source swamps and raised bogs streams jump down over mossed stones and boulders. Boats glide over the river called the "Black Pearl of the Bavarian Forest". A fairytale canyon forest full of alder trees, silver willows and ferns lines the banks accompanied by hiking trails. The medieval Fürsteneck Castle towers 60 metres above the valley floor. Behind it there are villages called Munich and Prague.
Where the Große Ohe flows into the larger Ilz, a footbridge branches off from the former Triftsteig. On the other bank there are three freshly limed houses. A sign should prevent hikers from entering the property. Above the front door is written: "Imperium MC Deutschland". The sign is displayed on the former Aumühle mill, which is the base of a motorcycle club. It shows its attitude clearly enough: The house sign is decorated with imperial eagles, oak leaves and a clenched fist.
Aumühle? This place, one of the most beautiful river landscapes in Bavaria, has already attracted supra-regional attention. Newspapers from all over Germany reported on a scary story, titled "Hunting scenes in Lower Bavaria" - similar to the sensational stage play by Martin Sperr.
"The little idiots we don't want here"
It was autumn 1969, when it became known in the 960 soul community of Fürsteneck that the bishop's ordinariate Passau had sold the Aumühle to the general practitioner Fritz Loew. Loew, who came from a philanthropic Jewish family, wanted to accommodate children there who were difficult to educate and mentally handicapped; he had already set up two homes. In the Aumühle it should never come to that.
"The Depperl don't want me here," reacted a loud majority of the Fürstenecker, their priest Georg Stetter in front. On October 17, more than a hundred villagers gathered in front of the Aumühle, when seven boys together with caregiver and home director got out of a minibus. Threatening words and gestures forced them to turn back. Father Stetter organized a "night watch". About 40 Fürsteneckers, including the mayor and half the fire brigade, gathered around a campfire over which they barbecued knuckles of pork. The castle brewery donated twelve crates of beer. As Stetter later said, the beer was "very cheerful and lively".
In the midst of the merry victory celebration, flames from an annex of the Aumühle mill struck. The fire brigades from the neighbouring villages of Munich and Prague, who came to the rescue, were prevented from extinguishing the flames by buzzed prince-neckers. The head of the home, Georg Villain, also rushed from Prague. He was considered the evil Doctor Loew. "There he is, he's beating him, Saujud!" A dozen boys jumped at the 58-year-old. Even a fireman beat him up. The man was hospitalized with serious injuries. "The beautiful house became a memorial of Lower Bavarian, even national shame overnight on 18 October 1969," wrote Der Spiegel at the time.
Charges against the priest
Doctor Loew filed charges against the priest for arson. However, a six-member special commission of the criminal police came across a "wall of silence". The diocese sent the priest on vacation "because of extreme utterances", the rural youth of the diocese wanted to atone for the hunt by helping to rebuild the home. But the people of Fürsteneck remained stubborn. They boycotted the priest of Perlesreut, who had been appointed as administrator; they cancelled a wedding and collected 50,000 Marks to build their own church if necessary.
"God has sympathy with us," announced the parish priest on leave, threatening even to leave the church. Finally there was a trial in Passau, the accusation was breach of the peace. The priest and the other defendants were acquitted. Stetter was allowed to return to his parish home, he was even promoted to clerical council. After his death there was a rumour that he had been murdered. His body was exhumed without result. A rich man from the Upper Palatinate bought the Aumühle and wanted to establish a gourmet restaurant in the Auwald. This did not go well for long.
Dubious new tenant
Then the mill stood empty at the rushing brook, until the said rocker club leased it. The club is pursuing "a very global policy", it says on its website, in whose guestbook comrades from Tyrol have already signed up. Internationally formulated is also the slogan: "Imperium forever - forever Imperium", but "the badge and the writings of Imperium MC Germany were deliberately kept German", as can be read in old German script.
The characteristics are explained as follows: The imperial eagle bears witness to greatness and strength, the oak leaves to honour and success, the clenched fist is an expression of strength and assertiveness. In National Socialism, a swastika was emblazoned here, but "one had nothing to do with right-wing ideas".
According to the police headquarters of Lower Bavaria, the club has about 20 members. One dissociates oneself "from any criminal action", the MC Imperium communicates. This does not always seem to succeed. According to the police, investigations against individual members have already led to "punitive measures", but "in no way as serious".
During major raids this year and last year, when hundreds of buildings in Eastern Bavaria were searched for weapons and drugs, investigators are said to have also looked around the clubhouse of the MC Imperium. Right-wing extremist activities are not known.
Dangerous legend from the USA
Alarmierender is a ring that shows the clenched fist of the club coat of arms: "1%" - it is the sign for so-called one-percenter, for particularly hard types. It goes back to a legend from the USA, according to which only one percent of bikers are actually violent. This is questionable, according to investigators. In Fürsteneck it is said that there have "never been any problems" with the club.
But why this relevant symbolism - even more so in a place with this past? A person close to the club speaks of a "rather provocatively" oriented, sometimes typical appearance of rockers - who obviously prefer to be among themselves. "Private property. Trespassing forbidden. Sharp guard dogs", says the sign at the entrance: "Survivors will be prosecuted".
- From https://www.merkur.de/bayern/mm-sauna-verbot-fuer-behinderten-457736.html:
Sauna-Verbot für Behinderten
Röhrnbach - Eigentlich sollte es ein kurzer Erholungsurlaub werden. Fünf Tage wollten Elisabeth Zeller und ihr Lebensgefährte Dr. Wolf-Dieter Flakowski im Bayerischen Wald verbringen, um sich von einer anstrengenden Reha zu erholen.
Als Domizil hatten sich die beiden das mit vier Sternen versehene Wellness-Hotel Jagdhof in Röhrnbach (Lkr. Freyung-Grafenau) ausgesucht. Der Kurzurlaub war jedoch vorbei, ehe er so richtig begonnen hatte: Weil sich andere Hotelgäste beschwert hätten, sagt Elisabeth Zeller, habe die Hotelleitung den behinderten 66-Jährigen gebeten, nicht mehr in die Sauna zu gehen. Das berichtete jetzt die Passauer Neue Presse (PNP).
Elisabeth Zeller ist noch immer aufgebracht, wenn sie von ihrem kurzen Aufenthalt im „Jagdhof“ erzählt: „Noch nie in meinem Leben bin ich so beleidigend und entwürdigend behandelt worden“, sagt die pensionierte Krankenschwester.
Seit zweieinhalb Jahren lebt sie mit Wolf-Dieter Flakowski zusammen in Fürstenfeldbruck. Ein Jahr lang waren sie ein glückliches Paar, bis im März 2007 ein schwerer Schicksalsschlag ihr Leben veränderte. Über Nacht erlitt Wolf-Dieter Flakowski einen Kleinhirninfarkt. Seitdem ist der gesamte Bewegungsapparat des ehemaligen Allgemeinarztes eingeschränkt. Er sitzt im Rollstuhl, das Sprechen fällt ihm schwer.
Regelmäßige Saunabesuche muntern den 66-Jährigen wieder auf, sagt Elisabeth Zeller. Gerade deswegen hätten sie sich für das luxuriöse Hotel in Röhrnbach entschieden, das auf seiner Internetseite mit einer ausgedehnten Saunalandschaft wirbt. Gleich am ersten Abend besuchten die beiden die Sauna des Hotels. „Erholung war das jedoch nicht für uns“, erzählt Elisabeth Zeller. „Kurze Zeit später kam Juniorchef Michael Ritzinger auf uns zu. Er forderte uns auf, die Sauna künftig nicht mehr aufzusuchen, da sich andere Gäste beschwert hätten. Ich war erst mal so perplex, dass ich gar nicht die passenden Worte für diese Dreistigkeit fand.“
Am nächsten Morgen suchte die 60-Jährige erneut das Gespräch mit dem Juniorchef, der aber habe seine Forderung wiederholt. Der Jagdhof sei „kein Behinderten-Hotel“, habe Michael Ritzinger betont. Besonders schmerzhaft empfand Elisabeth Zeller eine weitere Aussage. „Er hat zu uns gesagt: Wir sind eine Zumutung für die anderen Hotelgäste.“
Gegen diese Vorwürfe wehrt sich die Hotelleitung entschieden. Dem Paar sei der Zutritt zur Sauna nicht verboten worden, stellt Hotelchef Josef Ritzinger klar. Vielmehr hätten andere Hotelgäste den Anblick des schwerbehinderten Wolf-Dieter Flakowski als „unangenehm“ empfunden. „Zwei Paare kamen zu uns und sagten, dass sie deshalb nicht mehr in die Sauna gehen wollten.“ Er habe daraufhin Wolf-Dieter Flakowski und seine Lebensgefährtin mit den Bedenken der anderen Gäste konfrontiert. Schließlich müsse er versuchen, zwischen seinen Kunden zu vermitteln, um alle, die bei ihm ihren Urlaub verbringen, zufriedenstellen zu können. Flakowski sitze im Rollstuhl, könne kaum sprechen, der Kopf sei nach vorne geneigt und zeitweise laufe Speichel aus seinem Mund. „Dieser Anblick deprimiert andere Gäste“, ist Ritzinger überzeugt und verweist auf die, wie er sie nennt, „Ethikfrage“.
„Ich an seiner Stelle würde anderen den Anblick dieses schlimmen Schicksals nicht zumuten wollen“, sagt der Chef des Jagdhofs. Wolf-Dieter Flakowski und Elisabeth Zeller sind am Montag entrüstet aus dem Vier-Sterne-Haus (Doppelzimmer ab 176 Euro) abgereist. Ursprünglich hatten sie bis zum Donnerstag gebucht. „Sie mussten natürlich nur den einen Tag bezahlen“, sagt Josef Ritzinger und betont: „Wir wollten nicht, dass sie das Hotel verlassen. Uns sind alle Gäste willkommen.“
Stefan Endl/Isabell Metzger
VdK-Präsidentin: Das ist leider kein Einzelfall
Dass ein Mann wegen seiner Behinderung abgewiesen wird – das ist leider kein Einzelfall. Ähnliche Fälle, bei denen etwa Eltern mit einem behinderten Kind gebeten wurden, sich nicht den Gästen ihres Hotels zu zeigen, gingen bis vor Gericht, sagte Ulrike Mascher, die Präsidentin und bayerische Landesvorsitzende des Sozialverbands VdK Deutschland, am Dienstag zur tz. „Grundsätzlich gilt doch schon gemäß unserer Verfassung, dass niemand wegen seiner Behinderung benachteiligt werden darf. Er darf also auch nicht aus Restaurants oder Hotels abgewiesen werden, nur weil er nicht der Normvorstellung der Gäste entspricht.“ Jedem Menschen könne es passieren, dass er zum Beispiel aufgrund eines Unfalls behindert wird. „Wenn man sagt, so jemanden wollen wir nicht, in welcher Gesellschaft leben wir denn da?“ Zum Glück sage aber die Mehrheit: Wir wollen niemand ausgrenzen!
Dienstag, 15. September 2009 / von Karin Gabler
Röhrnbach. Josef Ritzinger, Hotelier und Inhaber des 4-Sterne-Hotels Jagdhof im niederbayerischen Röhrnbach, hat mit Behinderten kein Problem. Sein Wellnesshotel ist für diese Klientel weit besser ausgestattet als so manch vergleichbares. Jetzt aber wurde Ritzinger von einem Paar aus Fürstenfeldbruck als behindertenfeindlich beschimpft. „Das war absichtlich herbeigeführt“, vermutet Ritzinger. Auch einige Hotelkollegen dachten spontan an eine gezielte Provokation. „Herr Ritzinger hat Erfolg und viel investiert“, so Hermann Reischl jun. vom Reischlhof im nahen Wegscheid, „das schafft möglicherweise Neid.“
Die Situation im Jagdhof war heikel und wurde in den Lokalzeitungen nach Recherchen der AHGZ teilweise einseitig – zu Ungunsten des Hoteliers – dargestellt: Das Hotel hatte einen Schlaganfallpatienten zu Gast, der sich nur im Rollstuhl bewegen, nicht artikulieren konnte und von seiner Lebensgefährtin komplett abhängig war. Diese wiederum sei, so Josef Ritzinger, sowohl bei der Buchung als auch beim Check-in darauf hingewiesen worden, dass sich speziell die Saunalandschaft nicht für Rollstuhlfahrer eigne. Auch mit Blick auf die Hygiene. „Rollstühle mit Straßenbereifung sind letztlich wie Straßenschuhe zu handhaben.“ Das Paar fuhr dennoch in die Sauna. Der Schwerstkranke wurde von seiner Begleiterin auf die Holzflächen gehievt. Geschwächt und weit nach vorne gebeugt, lief ihm ständig unkontrolliert Speichel aus dem Mund.
„Das war der Auslöser für andere Hotelgäste, sich zu beschweren“, berichtet Ritzinger, der persönlich keine Berührungsängste mit Behinderten habe und einige sogar zu seinen Stammgästen zählt. Er bat das Paar dann – wie bereits bei dessen Ankunft –, die Sauna nicht zu besuchen, daraufhin reiste das Paar ab. Der Vorfall hat weithin für Ärger gesorgt. Nicht nur im Landkreis Freyung-Grafenau. Laut BHG-Präsident Siegfried Gallus befasste sich auch der Behindertenbeauftragte der bayerischen Regierung damit. „Die Branche wird hier in ein schlechtes Licht gestellt“, sagt Gallus, „dabei war die Situation eine echte Gratwanderung für den Hotelier.“
Gallus versteht nicht, weshalb die Gäste kein behindertengerechtes Haus aufgesucht haben. In Bayern gibt es drezeit 29 vom BHG geprüfte Betriebe, die entsprechend bundesweiter Kriterien ganz bewusst Menschen mit Behinderung ansprechen.
Die Behindertenbeauftragte des Landkreises Freyung-Grafenau, Theresia Schuhbaum, befürchtet durch den aktuellen Fall einen großen Schaden für die Region. „Wir wollen ja im Landkreis Urlaubsgäste mit Behinderung“ betont Schuhbaum, die selbst seit ein paar Jahren im Rollstuhl sitzt. Schuhbaum appelliert an Hoteliers und Gastwirte, auch aufgrund der immer älter werdenden Bevölkerung umzudenken.
Viele Hotelier-Kollegen haben indes Verständnis für Ritzingers Reaktion. „Man sollte sich doch in seine Lage versetzen“, so Michael Altewischer, Geschäftsführer der Wellness Hotels Deutschland. „Ich selbst bin mit gehbehindertem Vater aufgewachsen und somit gegenüber behinderten Menschen unverkrampft erzogen worden. Aber unsere Gesellschaft will mit dem Leiden anderer Menschen häufig nicht konfrontiert werden. Dieses gesellschaftliche Thema kann man als Hotelier allein nicht bewältigen.“
Altewischer weist darauf hin, dass Wellnesshotels Orte sind, an denen man sich mit Spaß um seine Gesundheit kümmert. „Wellnesshotels sind keine kurativen Einrichtungen!“ Und er erinnert daran, dass es in Wellnesshotels oft auch Probleme mit dem Verständnis anderer Gäste für tobende Kinder im Pool gebe. Das jedoch sei mit bestimmten „Kinder-Zeiten“ beispielsweise in Griff zu bekommen. Eine solche Regelung, etwa mit einem zeitlichen Sauna-Angebot für das Paar, wäre für Kurt Wagner, Direktor des Seehotels Überfahrt in Rottach-Egern, vorstellbar. „Krankheit ist schlimm genug, man darf Kranke nicht ausgrenzen“, sagt er. Er kennt ähnliche Situationen mit arabischen Gästen. „Mancher Einzelgast stört sich an Verschleierten im Hotel“, sagt er, „als Hotelier muss ich eine Lösung für alle finden.“
Josef Ritzinger wird künftig sein Angebot in Schriftform fixieren. Einen goldenen Ausweg gibt es jedoch nicht. „Das hätte jedem von uns passieren können“, betont Reischl jun. „Der VdK und die Behindertenverbände sollen uns doch einmal konkret sagen, wie wir uns in so einem Fall verhalten sollten.“ Karin Gabler
Röhrnbach/Bodenmais - Es empörte ganz Bayern, was dem schwerbehinderten Wolf-Dieter Flakowski (66) und dessen Lebensgefährtin Elisabeth Zeller (60) im Hotel Jagdhof in Röhrnbach (Kreis Freyung-Grafenau) widerfahren war.
Der Hotelchef hatte wie berichtet den im Rollstuhl sitzenden, pflegebedürftigen Mann gebeten, die Sauna nicht zu besuchen – Gäste hätten sich an seinem Anblick gestört!
Jetzt zeigt dafür ein anderer Hotelier ein großes Herz: Er spendiert dem Paar einen Gratisurlaub. „Mir ist das sehr zu Herzen gegangen“, sagte Karl Wühr (53), Chef des Ferien- und Wellnesshotels Waldesruh in Bodenmais (Kreis Regen), der Passauer Neuen Presse. Ihn berührte das Schicksal des Fürstenfeldbruckers Flakowski, der als Allgemeinmediziner gearbeitet und vor zwei Jahren einen Kleinhirninfarkt erlitten hatte. „Morgen kann mir das auch passieren“, so Wühr. Einen dreitägigen Urlaub zum Ausspannen hat er Flakowski und seiner Lebensgefährtin Zeller deshalb angeboten und betont: „Sie können Hallenbad, Sauna und Dampfbad benutzen.“ Die beiden haben sich riesig darüber gefreut.Über die Hotelleitung des Jagdhofs ärgert sich Elisabeth Zeller noch immer. „Ich hätte eine Entschuldigung erwartet.“