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Practical compassions: repertoires of practice and compassion talk in acute mental healthcare

Brown, Brian; Crawford, Paul; Gilbert, Paul; Gilbert, Jean; Gale, Corinne

Authors

Brian Brown

PAUL CRAWFORD paul.crawford@nottingham.ac.uk
Professor of Health Humanities

Paul Gilbert

Jean Gilbert

Corinne Gale



Abstract

This article reports an exploratory study of the concept of compassion in the work of 20 mental health practitioners in a UK Midlands facility. Using notions of practice derived from phenomenology and Bourdieusian sociology and notions of emotional labour we identify two contrasting interpretive repertoires in discussions of compassion. The first, the practical compassion repertoire, evokes the practical, physical and bodily aspects of compassion. It involves organising being with patients, playing games, anticipating disruption and taking them outside for cigarettes. Practitioners described being aware that these practical, bodily activities could lead to patients ‘opening up’, disclosing their interior concerns and enabling practical, compassionate mental health work to take place. In contrast, the second, organisational repertoire, concerns organisational constraints on compassionate practice. The shortage of staff, the record-keeping and internal processes of quality control were seen as time-greedy and apt to detract from contact with patients. The findings are discussed in relation to Bourdieu and Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological accounts of practice and habit and set in context in the growing interest in placing compassion centrally in healthcare. We also explore how the exercise of compassion in the way our participants describe it can afford the more effective exercise of medical power.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 29, 2014
Journal Sociology of Health and Illness
Print ISSN 0141-9889
Electronic ISSN 1467-9566
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 3
APA6 Citation Brown, B., Crawford, P., Gilbert, P., Gilbert, J., & Gale, C. (2014). Practical compassions: repertoires of practice and compassion talk in acute mental healthcare. Sociology of Health and Illness, 36(3), https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12065
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12065
Keywords compassion, Bourdieu, practice, mental health, phenomenology
Publisher URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9566.12065/full
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Brown, B., Crawford, P., Gilbert, P., Gilbert, J. and Gale, C. (2014), Practical compassions: repertoires of practice and compassion talk in acute mental healthcare. Sociol Health Illn, 36: 383–399, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12065. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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