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Friday, May 26, 2017


An article in the CHE: a student comes into the professor's office with an official accommodation letter about panic attacks. The professor says that not showing up for an exam for a panic attack will not be very good for a number of reasons, and then asks the student what sh/e does normally to calm self in such a situation.  They have a conversation and the student ends up doing well in the class and never missing an exam for a panic attack.  

Then some disabilities specialists write another opinion piece in the CHE saying how this first article perpetuates "myths."  Like the myth of resilience, that a person can do things to manage their disability better. The professor who wrote op-ed 1 is arrogant, non-compliant with disability act (ADA), etc...

I have an anxiety disorder, let's say (I actually do), which is not PTSD or panic disorder, but something called General Anxiety Disorder.  (I've had only two or three panic attacks in my life, two that I remember buts let's say I don't remember everything.)  The best thing someone can tell you is to take steps to manage it, which I've done. So asking someone what they normally do is perfectly fine.  If the student did have the panic attack and the prof. did not accommodate, then she would be in violation, of course, but recommending coping mechanisms as first resort is nothing bad.

I've read up on these disorders, and what actually works is not avoidance of the stressors, but the realization that a panic attack is survivable and that anxiety, in general, is something normal rather than something wholly intolerable. Since no human being can avoid all anxiety in all situations in life, the anxiety sufferer goes to extraordinary lengths to do the impossible and ends up being slave to various anxiety avoidance techniques, which often end up being life avoidance techniques. The treatment ends up being much worse than the original problem. I am not embarrassed to say I have done this, because having anxiety in and of itself is not the disorder. Everyone feels it, along with the other normal range of human affect.

Resilience is basic axis of human personality. Some have more or less, but it is there, the same with other axes like the ability to introspect, to understand others, to enjoy one's personal triumphs, etc... There is no reason to believe that disabled people have more or less of this, but in general most people think it's better to more of it. Except these disability busy-bodies.

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