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Psycho-Social Effects of Cochlear Implantation with Deaf Children

Manuel CAJAL

12 / 1994

The COCHLEAR IMPLANT (CI)is an example of electrical stimulation equipement, partially replacing retro-cochlear acoustic nervefibers/paths in bilaterally non functioning cochlear structures. This medical innovation has, since its inception, led to controversy between Deaf and hearing poeple. Specifically, the controversy rages around the implantation in young Deaf children.

Two opposing attitudes oppose each other diametrically. One of these, mostly propagated in medical circles, states that early implantation is of crucial importance for general development, especially in the area of language and speech. The other attitude, adhered to by the Deaf community, argues that the arguments used earlier have never been proved scientifically and also that implantation in young Deaf children has detrimental effects on their psychosocial development. Added to this, the positive effects -if any- seem not to be clearcut and directly linked to the implant itself.

Psychosocial development can be defined as the processing of interactions between people in general and the reflection of this processing on personal identity. These interactions fullfill the primary and secondary levels in Maslow’s pyramid. It is only right to examine them more closely in the framework of evaluating the effects of CI.

Each culture, each race, each gender, uses them in a different way and therefore becomes distinguishable on their characteristics.

We can see that, as a consequence of living in a hearing majority environment, the disability of Deafness leads to deficits in controlling four previously mentioned aspects.

We conclude in stating that in the evaluation of technical aids for Deaf people, attention should be paid not only to the specific effectiveness of the aid itself, but also in what measure they contribute or detract to self image and a "Deaf" identity.

Palabras claves

comunicación, niño, identidad cultural, modelo cultural, proceso de adaptación, psicología, sociología

, Europa, Países Bajos, Utrecht


The Deaf person can react to the chronic "culture shock" with three "survival strategies". We submit that Deaf poeple cannot thrive in a (for them)communicatively unattractive setting. It becomes important for educators to arm young Deaf poeple with confidence and a positive self image.


GESTES Groupe d’Etude Spécialisé "Thérapies et Surdités"has organised the ESMHD European Society for Mental Health and Deafnessthird international congress, in Paris, on december 1994. Publication of the proceedings will occur later on.

Written from the speech of Jan Pieter GOVERS, Mulderstraat 39, 3581 GP, Utrecht, THE NERERLANDS. Fax: 03473-73385


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