Abstract

The work of psychologist and author Lauren Slater has elicited strong reactions from both medical professionals and disability studies theorists, ranging from criticism to high praise. Attending to these responses, I argue that her work, in perhaps perverse fashion, can provide a narrative touch point for attempts from both fields to complicate the outdated binary division of the medical and social models. I illustrate the need for this collaboration through the example of malingering, suggesting that reading Slater’s work through the lens of Tobin Siebers’s theory of “masquerade” can open progressive conversations about “illness deception,” which is an issue of central importance in disability rights, psychiatry, and political conversations. By using Slater’s work and research on malingering as a test case, I point to potentially productive convergences among academic, medical, and social fields.

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