Horizon examines issues surrounding human disabilities and new approaches to treating these conditions.
Narrator Bart Bastable sets the scene for this documentary in his opening commentary.
The human chain is composed of many links. Each link in the chain is a person with different abilities and disabilities. The strength of any chain is the strength of its weakest link.
The Weakest Link examines the place of people with disabilities in society and how the world of medicine treats these people. New approaches to treating physical disabilities include aspects of mental health.
A doctor must also be a psychologist.
In less enlightened times extreme physical disability was often associated with mental illness. The perception of mental illness meant that the person was possessed by the devil. Society reacted by locking these people away and in extreme cases torture.
An ignorant society with a dread of the unknown was ruthless in dealing with what it considered to be tangible expressions of evil.
Approaches to treatment vary from societal integration to institutionalisation depending on the severity of the disability and the ability of society to cope. For those unable to fit in to regular society the future is depressing.
Their inevitable end is some form of institution. Perhaps a hospital for incurables or a home for the aged.
Dr Thomas Gregg Medical Director of the Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire is an advocate for independent living for the physically handicapped. Maureen Murphy a medical social worker reinforces this view saying
The chronically disabled should be removed from the hospitals and placed in small homes where they could live an independent life doing everything at their own speed.
'Horizon: The Weakest Link' was broadcast on 4 December 1966. The programme was written and produced by Bob Quinn and narrated by Bart Bastable.