How did I Find My Deaf Identity?

Autor/a: SALONEN, Juhana
Año: 2015
Editorial: VII Deaf Academics Researchers Conference, 2015
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Vídeo digital


Comunidad y cultura sorda


In this paper I present an auto-ethnographic study of my life. I am a Deaf person who suffered severe psychiatric problems in my youth because of my unawareness of my Deaf identity and of the meaning of life. I also suffered from weak social-emotional skills. The purpose of this research is to discuss openly my life from two main angles: the socio-cultural (Deaf identity, Deafhood, sign language) and the medical (welfare, social-emotional functioning, mental health). This research was done together with my mother Sisko-Margit Syväoja, who is a hearing psychiatrist. Auto-ethnography as a qualitative research method includes the interconnectivity of the self and others. The data of the present study consist of personal memories, self-observation, self-reflection and external material, and takes the form of diaries, interviews and documents. Through these we analysed individual and communal discourses, especially about the experience of being Deaf and social relations with the family and the neighbourhood. The research shows how important it is to examine closely the personal narratives of a Deaf person and of people who have lived in close proximity to that person. I experienced severe crises in my social-emotional functioning and in my mental health during puberty. After much effort I succeeded in finding my identity and developing my social-emotional skills. A thorough understanding and awareness of Deaf identity, Deafhood and sign language helped in this process.

More detailed discussion is needed of how awareness of a Deaf identity can be developed in both the social and cultural meanings of being Deaf. When a Deaf person and the people in his or her immediate environment are aware of how this can be done, the Deaf person can process Deafhood and manage his or her social-emotional skills. An auto-ethnographic approach allows a cross-cultural combination of the socio-cultural and medical views. They have the same goal – the welfare of a Deaf child.