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How is someone's dignity taken away from them?  

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Michael Koren eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are various ways a person may have their dignity taken away from them. One way may occur with declining health. As people age or become sick, they may not be able to do things that we take for granted. For example, a person who needs to be fed by somebody else in order to eat may feel a loss of dignity. A person who needs help in getting dressed, being bathed, or getting out of bed may feel the loss of their dignity. Unfortunately, many of our elderly experience this before they die.

Another way people may lose dignity is if others humiliate them, especially if this is done publicly. When a person is put down, ridiculed, or embarrassed in front of other people, they may feel a drop in their self-worth or dignity. Humiliation can be very damaging to a person. Even if it is done privately, the humiliation could have a long-lasting negative impact. Public or private humiliation could result in the loss of dignity.

A person who is falsely accused of some action may have his or her reputation harmed because of the resulting negative publicity. This may also cause a person to lose his or her dignity.

Having one’s dignity taken away is a free serious situation.

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kyisama | Student

First, what is dignity? Dignity comes from the Latin word, dignus and dignitas, which means worthy/worthiness. Dignus/dignitas was later translated to Old French: dignete. From there, the word dignity was derived.

Asking how someone's dignity is taken away from them is asking how their worthiness, honor, and respect for themselves is taken away. Everyone has their own worth and the way it may be perceived differs, but it can't be taken away. It can be questioned, lessened, or even threatened. I like the way Tom Neal relates it to God:

In other words, human dignity cannot be earned and cannot be taken away. It's an inalienable gift given to us by God, and every other good thing in life depends on the safeguarding of our fundamental dignity.

Tom Neal also gives good examples of when a person's dignity can be lessened, questioned, and threatened:

When we are sick, disabled or at the end of life, we especially can feel our own worth is threatened as we lose certain freedoms we once enjoyed; lose a sense of bodily control; suffer the paralysis of pain; or face the fear of death.

From those lines, we can see that people have to be in a dire situation that deals a huge blow to their physical or emotional state of being.

Sources:

https://www.agingwithdignity.org/latest/latest-news/2015/11/12/what-is-human-dignity