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Who Says I Can't? A Two-Time Cancer-Surviving Amputee and Entrepreneur Who Fought Back, Survived and Thrived

Brown, W (2012) Who Says I Can't? A Two-Time Cancer-Surviving Amputee and Entrepreneur Who Fought Back, Survived and Thrived International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 13 (2). pp. 145-146.

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It is fascinating to read Rosenberg’s autobiography as you journey with the author through the triumphs and tribulations in his extraordinary life. At first glance, the book has limited appeal – to those with specific interests in sport, physical impairment and entrepreneurship - but the book is written in a way that engages the reader, inviting us to look at a life more fulfilled as the author uses his physical impairment as a positive driving force in his chosen pursuits. It is the journey of regaining self-confidence and a positive identity through persistence, determination and self-focus that is of central importance to this narrative. The book neither abides by nor offers any grand theory of disability or enterprise. Instead, it details extreme feats of human perseverance, adaptability and strength. What it does articulate well is the fact that disabled people are affected by problems of impairment as well as problems of disability. In a brief section, Rosenberg convincingly conveys the psychological and physical experience of chronic pain and sense of loss as a consequence of his impairment. He also articulates the emotional difficulty of wanting to be ‘normal’ whilst being defined by impairment. Recognizing that society tempers accomplishments with attitudes, he confronts and questions disabling attitudes such as ‘you are good, “considering”...’ and amplifies the inequality to which people with physical impairments are subjected in the course of everyday life. In compensating for this societal prejudice, his book and outlook on life are very pro-disability, suggesting (for him at least) that being disabled by society gives him an edge, a determination,an advantage and something to fight against. Whether success is measured by achievement or by obstacles overcome, Rosenberg has achieved success in almost every field into which he has ventured. His personal accomplishments – which are substantial – are detailed in an attempt to move people from sympathy for someone who they may perceive to be disadvantaged, to respect. He describes his super-aggressive drive to perform at a level higher than others as a psychological adaptation on his part to overcompensate and prevent a pity reaction. Most of the book describes how this drive has enabled him to supersede ‘two leggers’ at numerous physical sports, providing him with inner strength, determination and ability to take risks, helping him to gain a PhD and drive several teams that have successfully built and grown lucrative technology enterprises. Rosenberg’s memoir is uplifting. While it focuses solely on his personal experiences of overcoming the loss of a limb, the loss of a lung and the loss of assurance of life, it may provide inspiration and motivation for others. In his final chapter, he notes that he hopes his book can help people facing a life severely compromised by physical impairment to deal with their situation and to help them find the ‘motivation to fight back and have the drive and the will to compensate and then over compensate. Not just physically but in all aspects of life.’ (p 229). There is a growing interest in cultural representations of disabled people. Books such as this provide positive images of them in different and perhaps unexpected areas of life, and help to break down societal prejudice and lack of ambition for individuals with physical impairments.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors : Brown, W
Date : 1 May 2012
DOI : 10.5367/ijei.2012.0078
Uncontrolled Keywords : disability studies, entrepreneurship
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 28 Mar 2017 15:53
Last Modified : 24 Jan 2020 12:39

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