MeST Seminar with Helene Scott-Fordsmand

Helene Scott-Fordsmand: A critical inspection of the notion of clinical detachment: A study of orthopaedic surgery and its practice imperative

For many years, there was an assumption that the ideal emotional stance of clinicians – particularly surgeons – should be detachment, that is, absence of emotion. In recent years this ideal has invoked much debate with a new focus on patient-centred care and calls for more empathic medical practitioners. Based in ethnographic fieldwork at two orthopaedic wards in Denmark, I explore how evaluation of emotions as appropriate or inappropriate can be tied into the imperative of medical practice. I show how emotions are evaluated by clinicians themselves based on the sense of agency and in the context of an action imperative which dominates their practice. From this, I propose a nuanced and contextual approach to understanding the role and appropriateness of emotions in clinical practice, and argue that debates around the notion of clinical detachment are misplaced in their narrow focus for or against emotions, as (emotional) detachment in different forms may or may not be relevant or appropriate based on the circumstances and the imperatives inherent in the practice in question.

The event does not require registration and is open for everyone. 

Link to Zoom: