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Disability: Diagnostic Labeling

  1. Nick Watson

Published Online: 15 JUL 2006

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0005216



How to Cite

Watson, N. 2006. Disability: Diagnostic Labeling. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2006


Diagnostic labeling of people as ‘disabled’ can affect the individual's sense of identity and self. The values that the rest of society attaches to such labels need to be challenged. Many diagnostic labels referring to disability are applied by medical professionals, but it is their impact on the disabled person as they interact with other people in their lifeworld that are of central concern. Being labeled as a disabled person or as one who has an impairment can affect relationships both with those in one's immediate circle of acquaintances, such as those in domestic or work environments, and with those who are met in more casual relationships.


  • disability;
  • labeling theory;
  • sociology;
  • identity;
  • values;
  • relationships