Article ID: CBB168943935

Moving Away from the "Medical Model": The Development and Revision of the World Health Organization's Classification of Disability (2019)


Recently, there has been a prominent call in the history of medicine for greater engagement with disability perspectives. In this article, I suggest that critiques of the so-called medical model have been an important vehicle by which alternative narratives of disability entered the clinical arena. Historians of medicine have rarely engaged with the medical model beyond descriptive accounts of it. I argue that to more adequately address disability perspectives, historians of medicine must better historicize the medical model concept and critique, which has been drawn upon by physicians, activists, and others to advance particular perspectives on disability. My present contribution describes two distinct formulations of critique that originated in differing interest groups and characterized the medical model alternatively as insufficient and oppressive. I examine the World Health Organization’s efforts to incorporate these distinctive medical model critiques during the development and revision of its International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities, and Handicaps.

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Authors & Contributors
Sies, Mary C.
Lindemann, Marilee
Parks, Sheri L
Wilkerson, Abby L.
Winance, Myriam
Pereira, Ray
Dynamis: Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Journal of American Culture
Journal of Social History
Medical History
Asclepio: Archivo Iberoamericano de Historia de la Medicina
Duke University Press
University of California, Davis
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Wisconsin Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
University of California Press
Disabilities; disability; accessibility
Medicine and society
Public health
Disease and diseases
Mental disorders and diseases
United States
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
World Health Organization (WHO)
La Fédération québécoise de l’autisme
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
World Bank
Council of Europe

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