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Parkinson’s Disease
Volume 2013, Article ID 608562, 8 pages
Review Article

Reformulating Psychological Difficulties in People with Parkinson’s Disease: The Potential of a Social Relational Approach to Disablism

1Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YT, UK
2Older Adult Psychological Therapies Service, Pennine Care NHS Trust, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 7SR, UK
3Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YT, UK

Received 13 June 2013; Accepted 15 July 2013

Academic Editor: Daniel Truong

Copyright © 2013 Jane Simpson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Research investigating the psychological difficulties experienced by people with Parkinson's disease (PD) is dominated by individualistic neurobiological and psychological perspectives. Therefore, this opinion paper draws on a reformulation of the social model of disability, Thomas' (1999) and (2007) social relational approach to disablism, to offer an alternative way of conceptualising psychological difficulties experienced by people with PD. This opinion paper explores the ways in which socially imposed restrictions and stigma may contribute to psychological difficulties by using Thomas' (2007) concept of psychoemotional disablism. By using the lens of psychoemotional disablism, this paper demonstrates that people with PD can be exposed to stigmatising attitudes and interactions which could contribute to restrictions, feelings of shame, and psychological difficulties such as depression. Accordingly, it is argued that further attention to the link between psychological difficulties and social dimensions of disablism in PD is needed in both research arenas and clinical practice to broaden understandings and interventions for people with PD.