1) Solomon explores the social context that underlies what is normal.
2) Solomon utilizes a method I am about to embark upon: interview-based fact-fueled non-fiction.
This will be a post in motion. I began reading Far from the Tree just today and am already moved. Solomon explores a fundamental question: how do parents adapt to a child very different from them? A child born deaf, or with autism, or with tendencies towards criminality... is this child disabled? Is this an illness? When labeled as an illness, considerations can be put in place that assist, such as wheelchair ramps, but in that label there can also be rejection of that which is not considered normal by current societal standards. To remove the term illness might reduce stigma but it also can limit treatment based research or public policy safeguards for equality.
Solomon posits that people often see the term "identity" as in duality with illness and that this doesn't have to be the case. I am only on Chapter II, Deaf. For many who are deaf, the sense of isolation can end when the Deaf culture is identified. This awareness of a culture around Deaf is not in opposition of the concept of illness--it doesn't influence whether the condition is an illness or not. Joining a mini-society returns to the dynamic crux of what drives resiliency. I argue that it is necessary to create a cohesive narrative that makes sense of life's course and identity is at the core. It is okay and uncomfortable to carry conflicting emotions and ideas. One might be angry and resentful and proud all at once for being faced with autism, deafness, or being gay, heightened in a non-accepting environment. In forging an identity with the anomaly, rather than compartmentalizing or ignoring or shaming, one creates both a powerful narrative and a source of strength.
To be continued....