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The phenomenology of rehabilitation: the gap between life and world accentuated

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Inger Berndtsson
Publicerad i Paper presenterat vid NNDR Nordic Network on Disability Research 14th Research Conference, Örebro 3–5 maj
Publiceringsår 2017
Publicerad vid Institutionen för pedagogik och specialpedagogik
Språk en
Ämnesord phenomenology, rehabilitaton, vision impairment, lifeworld
Ämneskategorier Pedagogik


Background: There is need for a theory about learning to deal with a changed life situation when faced with impairment in everyday life. Based on two studies where experience of visual impairment or blindness have been in focus, interpretation has been stretched further to identify cornerstones to a practice based theory about lifeworld rehabilitation and learning related to vision rehabilitation. Method: In the two studies 14 persons (aged 31–72 years old) have taken part. Lifestories, qualitative interviews and narratives, as well as observations in rehabilitation settings have been used. The research has adopted a lifeworld approach and lifeworld phenomenology in an attempt to develop theory. Results: The presentation will focus on some key issues in the interpretation of how life changes related to visual impairment and blindness as an adult, and how it is possible to rebuild the changed and new world. The main interpretation is that blindness causes a gap or vacuum between life and world. The world is no longer familiar instead there is often a feeling of estrangement. Using Merleau-Ponty’s theory of the lived body, the research has deepened interpretation of the experienced gap between life and world. This new room and world is often experienced as empty. Learning to live in this new world has shown to consist existential, perceptual and social dimensions as well as aspects of activity. Rehabilitation and learning then deals with how to bridge the gap between life and world and make the new world to one’s own world. It is mainly through activity that the world is re-created. Disability as it is lived and interpreted by others also plays a central role in learning to handle a changed body and world. Conclusions: Guiding people in learning to know their new world can be expressed as lifeworld rehabilitation where one has to take into consideration the individual and his or her world. Not the least is to challenge stereotypes when interpreting disability.

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