Monday, 12 January 2009

Professional distance

It's a well known fact that emergency services personnell tend to maintain a professional distance from their patients, in order to carry out their job without becoming emotionally involved. Certainly, if I were to allow myself to think too deeply about some of the calls I deal with, I would certainly not be able to cope.

However, I never thought I would keep this barrier up when I was off-duty. I'm not saying I'm heartless and don't allow myself to care, but I received some shocking news about one of my closest friends, Jack, yesterday, and I didn't react. My other friends were devastated, crying and talking about it constantly. I, on the other hand, dealt with the news calmly and got on with my evening. I'm not sure if it's because I haven't physically seen Jack to confirm that yes, he is seriously ill, or just that I can't let my guard down. But either way, I don't seem to be able to allow myself to cry. Instead of talking about my friend it's almost like I'm referring to a patient. I'm not seeing Jack, I'm seeing his illness and the symptoms.

In a way, it's good that I know I have developed this ability to distance myself from distressing situations. But in another, more personal way, I seem to have lost the ability to care about my loved ones.


caramaena said...

Or alternatively, you care a great deal and your unconscious mind is familiar with this coping mechanism - so it goes into auto-pilot to allow you time to process the sad news.

Sorry to hear your friend is ill.

Anonymous said...

It might just be something as simple as you have spoken to so many people or family members who are gravely ill and you just see it as another clinical case.

OK this might be a crap analogy but I guess Ferrari mechanics who work on Ferrari cars probably don’t appreciate the beauty of the cars they work on as much as the owners because they see it from a different perspective.

So it does not make you cold hearted at all. It just means you are able to look at it rationally and objectively for what it is. Hope that makes sense.