Gibson, Barbara E. “Disability, Connectivity and Transgressing the Autonomous Body.” Journal of Medical Humanities 27.3 (Fall 2006): 187-96.



Gibson is responding to Western notions of the autonomous body by thinking about relationships that might be thought of from the outside as “dependencies” (her example is of men who use ventilators). She is drawing on Deleuze and Guattari to “re-conceptualize dependency as connectivity”–a kind of connectivity that replaces the static, autonomous subject with a subject that is always “becoming.” She brings this idea of becoming into conversation with 3 different examples of “dependencies”: man-dog, man-machine, and woman-woman-man. Using these linkages, Gibson argues that these connectivities highlight the potential for multiples becomings for all persons, and that focusing on these becomings calls us to consider an ethics that replaces an emphasis on the autonomous subject with a recognition of the difference and vulnerability of the becoming self.


Gibson says that one of the implications of her argument is a challenge to medical and minority identity politics since these are built on notions of the autonomous subject. It seems like there needs to be more discussion of balancing this theoretical view of the subject-as-becoming with lived material realities that necessitate group identifications (which are always shifting anyway).

Key Quotes:

“The body is uncontainable, leaking and flowing into the world. Dependency as something to be avoided and independence as a goal are unproductive ambitions that limit desire. Once the connectivity of unbounded becoming-subject is revealed, the collective fantasy of the binaries of independence/dependence, self/other, disabled/non-disabled is rendered unstable.” (195)