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Serani, D. (2001). Yours, Mine, and Ours: Analysis With a Deaf Patient and a Hearing Analyst. Contemp. Psychoanal., 37(4):655-671.

(2001). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 37(4):655-671

Yours, Mine, and Ours: Analysis With a Deaf Patient and a Hearing Analyst

Deborah Serani, Psy.D

Blindness cuts one off from things. Deafness cuts one off from people.

—Helen A. Keller

The Idea of Culture and language in working with deaf patients has been slow to find its place in psychoanalytic treatment technique and even in theory. Many hearing individuals, professionals included, still equate deafness with some kind of deficiency; flaw, or loss. Further, the medical-pathological model of deafness encourages the deaf patient to consider himself as a disabled person, not as an individual who is culturally different (Glickman, 1996). The deaf individual's self-image is one that the hearing world prescribes—languageless, speechless, and unhearing (Humphries, 1996). In this regard, it is easy to understand why a positive sense of identity is difficult to acquire for deaf children and adults (Lane, 1992). This essay examines how the use of a culturally affirmative model may better aid in the treatment of deaf individuals than the use of an impairment model. It also offers technical considerations for expanding the analytic matrix with this underserved population.

Most people in the hearing world view deafness as a disability. In the psychological setting, the medical model of deafness-as-disability is prominent. The focus is for the deaf patient to accommodate to the hearing world and view the lack of audition as impairment. Most analysts are hearing individuals who prize their five senses, especially counting on them in the analytic work. It is from this model that the hearing analyst believes there is something missing in the deaf patient.

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