John Barton used to live in the non-disabled world. Then he developed symptoms of an obscure inherited condition that affected his mobility, closely followed by Parkinson's disease. And suddenly he found himself propelled into the kingdom of the disabled. There are two worlds, he writes: 'In one lies power, privilege and validity, in the other, the supposed lack, shame and misery of the invalids. The barriers that separate them - physical, political and psychological - diminish us all. They cripple our societies.' This is a book not about disability but about our shared humanity. Barton takes us on a journey through history, politics, sociology, medical science and psychology, to explore the meanings of disability. Why do we, as a species, find it so hard to share our common world with people who are different from us? When you meet a disabled person in the street, socially, or in your work, do you pass the Humanity Test? Read this book. You may learn something.
1. Introduction: Failing the Humanity Test
2. Biography: Getting on my nerves
3. Disability: Who and what is disabled?
4. Therapy: The search for a soulful life
5. Spirituality: The transcendental turn
6. Society: Uncivilization and its discontents
7. Humanity: Passing the test
This is a wise and fascinating account, written accessibly by someone who is a reliable guide to the worlds of disability and psychotherapy,because it’s exactly where he lives. I trusted him immediately andrecommend this book to all.
Tom Shakespeare, Professor of Disability Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
The Humanity Test is a great book. John Barton has found a balance between being candid and learned about disability. This book acknowledges the emotional aspects of disability in a sensitive and intelligent manner. Each chapter is an accessible primer on interesting and relevant topics relating to disability, while bringing everything together in a carefully structured argument for social justice. There are many different ways of thinking about disability – Barton manages to acknowledge this while finding universalities among all disabled people.
Josh Hepple, disability equality activist and consultant
Barton shows how disability exposes us to ourselves in all our vulnerability, loneliness, incompetence and fear of disappearing. His research demonstrates how this can paradoxically lead to a deeper, more soulful humanity – so lacking in our contemporary world. The Humanity Test should be part of all therapeutic training.
Professor Emmy van Deurzen, existential psychotherapist and writer, Principal of the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling and Director of the Existential Academy