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Emotional Contagion - Alec

Emotional Contagion
Emotional Contagion

The artifact I have chosen is an image of two gold-coloured masks placed beside each other a dark surface. One has been molded to represent the expression of Joy on a human face while the other would seem to express sadness. The masks are also commonly known as theatre masks.


It is said that the artifact I have chosen (both masks) were first used in Ancient Greece to better represent emotions felt by the characters in plays. The historical names of the two masks are Melpomene (tragedy mask) and Thalia (comedy mask). This is my chosen artifact as I believe that it best represents my experiences as a young disability worker. I started work as a disability worker right after high school with nothing but monetary gain in mind. Thinking that it was going to be a simple job that required minimal effort, I happily completed training sessions provided before employment. To say that I was surprised at what a disability support worker had to do would be a huge understatement. I was taught very early along in the training that facial expressions matter a lot in the industry as there were many clients that were unable to understand speech due to their disabilities. I quickly realized that to be successful in establishing good rapport with the clients I was working with, I needed to be able to reciprocate their positive emotions and be able to absorb their negative emotions. Due to the frequency of facial expression changes and the reliance I had on it, I have therefore thought of it as a mask similar to the techniques used by the play actors in ancient Greece.


My curiosity in the world of disability grew exponentially right after employment as a disability worker mainly due to me wanting to how to better improve the lives of those I assist. I did complete a certificate in Disability Support due to workplace requirements but that only increase my curiosity. As stated before, I dove headfirst into the world of disability without much of an idea about how it works and came out wanting to know more which I believe has allowed me to have a different outlook in life against the social norm of avoiding tasks that might seem not “normal”. In relation to sexuality a notable line from The Routledge Handbook of Disability and Sexuality states, “disabled people’s sexuality has been denied and repressed in various violent, coercive and insidious ways” (Shuttleworth & Mona, 2021). Which raises many red flags in relation to the potential treatment that individuals with disabilities might endure due to incorrect assumptions.


This project has allowed me to reflect on how I have far I have progressed as a disability support worker. As this project focuses on sexuality through the lens of an individual with a disability; I was able to further my knowledge on how individuals with disabilities can fulfill their needs regarding to sexuality, something that I was taught very little about from work. Heteronormativity is a term that is beautifully described in the book “Heteronormativity and Social Work” which states that “Heteronormativity relies on an ideological and material matrix of norms, discourses, and practices that produce a compulsory heterosexuality as natural, normal, superior, and commonsense as opposed to other expressions of sexuality and gender (Dodd, 2021). This made me realize that this issue affects all societal members but especially so for individuals affected by a disability as from my experiences, they only wish for themselves to be seen as if they were “normal”.

Wish List:

I hope that my artifact does inspire all viewers to attempt to express happiness throughout all interactions in life just as I did for whatever events we might find ourselves in. According to an article on programs for individuals with an ABI (Acquired brain injury), individuals with disabilities are frequently portrayed as either hypersexual, asexual, or as helpless victims in need of protection from sexual violence and exploitation (O’Shea et al., 2020). It is also important to note that “Barriers to sexuality for people with disability arise not solely from an embodied impairment, but rather from a confluence of its social effects, such as a lack of sex education, narrow social conceptions of sex and sexuality, social disadvantage and isolation, institutionalization, economic disadvantage, and a lack of self-esteem or self-confidence” (O’Shea et al., 2020). I also strongly encourage all viewers to advocate for disability rights and to speak up when they do witness injustice.

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One Comment

  • Great use of an artefact! Thank you for sharing your experience of working as a disability support worker. I’m in aged care so I can relate to your analysis of vulnerable groups. From your reflection, I have discovered that the golden masks are a metaphor for the needs of minority groups such as disabled people, and how it may be difficult to support them when they don’t have a sufficient platform or voice. I commend you on your ability to express your personal affiliation with the artefact. Sexual justice for disabled people is extremely important, and I value your ability to make connections through the artefact. I have gathered from your reflection that your job is very rewarding and you are able to recognise the facial expressions and speech regarding those with specific disabilities. I can now acknowledge the need for specialised treatment, especially when it comes to emotional articulation. Awesome work! – Maria Tsekas

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