Spinal cord injury and the joy of work
Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research
Work, which plays such a prominent part in the narrative of human life, is central to a person's happiness (or unhappiness). Because this is so, the fact that spinal cord injury (SCI) tends to take a person out of the workforce (sometimes permanently) is recognized as a central part of post-injury loss. This paper draws on the insights of the virtue tradition and the discipline of positive psychology, to explore the notion of happiness (well-being) and its relationship to the vocations of
... vocations of people with SCI. In particular, it describes the virtues that can contribute to a person's capacity to obtain and sustain employment. This includes virtues relating to dependency and independency, as well as the role of hope, optimism and the like. It concludes with a brief discussion of the contribution that people with SCI can make to the culture of the workplace. Note: the research and writing on this topic is motivated by my own spinal cord injury incurred while jumping a pushbike on 7 October 2010. As a result of this accident, I broke my fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae (C5 incomplete). I mention this upfront to reveal the perspective from which I am writing. Indeed, rather than ignoring this fact for the sake of the myth of objectivity, in this paper I occasionally make direct reference to my own experience.