- Becoming Able to See Anomalies
In his still-authoritative history of science essay, Kuhn (1970) showed that scientific discoveries commence with awareness of anomaly that researchers initially struggle to notice. Kuhn drew on a psychological study to illustrate the problem. Bruner and Postman (1949 cited in Kuhn, 1970, pp. 63–64) asked people to name playing cards on brief exposure. Most cards were normal, but some were anomalous, such as a red six of spades and a black four of hearts. On brief exposure all participants fitted the anomalous cards unhesitatingly into their existing cognitive scheme, identifying them as, for example, a six of spades or a four of hearts. With longer exposures subjects began to hesitate: ‘That’s a six of spades, but there’s something wrong with it.’ Further increases in exposure resulted in more hesitation. The correct identification came quite suddenly to most people: Having noticed a few anomalous cards, they were then able to identify the others without difficulty. Yet even with 40× exposure, a few people continued to express confusion and discomfort while remaining unable to make the cognitive shift.
We cite this in justification of examining a single policy topic, choice, while also seeking to promote a Deleuzean account which entails multiplicity. Kuhn’s history indicates that, to persuade the necessary critical mass of research colleagues to explore a multiple and relational paradigm, they need first to have noticed anomalies between the thoughts and actions of people involved in intellectual disability (ID) and policies with which they are required to engage.
We studied people with ID as they left school less because this transition is persistently reported to be troubling than because transition pauses briefly the service flux that obscures the way people on the ground respond to changing policies. School-leaving creates a pinch point that makes moral imperatives, and people’s concerns and responses, visible to research.
Our study has revealed anomalies between the thoughts and actions of people involved in ID and the policies with which all parties are required to engage, by analyzing policy issues one at a time: Inclusion (Clegg, Murphy, Almack, & Harvey, 2008), risk and the navigation of moral terrain (Almack, Clegg, & Murphy, 2009), adulthood (Murphy, Clegg, & Almack, 2011), and differences between the needs of young people with ID and their parents (Pilnick, Clegg, Murphy, & Almack, 2011). In this final analysis published by PPP, we examined the outworking of choice policy but also went beyond simply adding to the growing chorus of criticism being directed at neoliberal individualism. We introduced a Deleuzean lens to show how this conceptual alternative can shed greater light on the data, and to indicate where this paradigm could take the field. We accept the observation that a Deleuzean account of a life leans back toward neoliberal individualism when only one concept or attribute is examined, and look forward to working with others to develop [End Page 381] an account of the ID life that incorporates multiple perspectives.
Whether it is possible or desirable to do without with the administrative category of ‘ID’ altogether is a more complex issue. There is growing evidence that ID becoming ‘dedifferentiated’ has had negative consequences for individuals and their families. Dedifferentiation is a term from biology and describes the process by which structures or behaviors that were specialized lose their specialization. Bigby and Ozanne (2001) were among the first to argue that, although dedifferentiation would address some problems deriving from stigmatization, it would also result in loss of knowledge. Current studies show that parents criticize mainstream services for having no knowledge of the health needs of children with unusual syndromes (Tunnicliffe & Oliver, 2011); and that adult mental health services are 1) reluctant to accept people with ID into their service (Donner, Mutter, & Scior, 2010), 2) unsure how to work with adults who have ID (Hemm, Dagnan, & Meyer, 2015: systematic review), and 3) not considered sufficiently competent (Flynn, 2010; Sheehan & Paschos, 2013) to treat the mental health problems experienced by people with ID.
Bigby and Ozanne (2001) further predicted that dedifferentiation would bring a loss of commitment to social and political change, shift responsibility back onto parents who...