Supporting Article

Wolfensberger’s 18 Wounds Faced by Devalued People


As a part of his Social Role Valorization theory, Wolfensberger describes 18 wounds that devalued people face. These might also be referred to as the “social consequences of disability.” 

Wound 1 Bodily impairment
Wound 2 Functional impairment 
Wound 3 Relegation to low social status/deviancy
Wound 4 Attitude of rejection—disproportionately/relentlessly
Wound 5 Cast into one or more historic deviancy roles
Wound 6 Symbolic stigmatizing, “marking,” “deviancy imaging,” “branding”
Wound 7 Being multiply jeopardized/scapegoated
Wound 8 Distancing: usually via segregation and also congregation 
Wound 9 Absence or loss of natural, freely given relationships and substitution with artificial/purchased ones
Wound 10 Loss of control, perhaps even autonomy and freedom 
Wound 11 Discontinuity with the physical environment and objects, “physical discontinuation”
Wound 12 Social and relationship discontinuity and even abandonment
Wound 13 De-individualization, “mortification” reducing humanness
Wound 14 Involuntary material poverty, material/financial exploitation
Wound 15 Impoverishment of experience, especially that of the typical valued world
Wound 16 Exclusion from knowledge and participation in higher-order value systems (e.g. religion) that give meaning and direction to life and provide community
Wound 17 Having one’s life “wasted”; mindsets contributing to life wasting
Wound 18 Being the object of brutalization, killing thoughts and death maki

 Wolfensberger, W. (1998b). A Brief Introduction to Social Role Valorization: A High-order Concept for Addressing the Plight of Societally Devalued People and for Structuring Human Services (3rd ed.). Syracuse, NY: Training Institute for Human Service Planning, Leadership & Change Agentry (Syracuse University) p. 12-21.

Image credit: Wheelchair by Andrew Hefter via Flickr. 

ChinaSource Team

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