Panel Participants – Evening Discussion and Closing Remarks

Issue 64 Spring 2017 (Pages 89-97)

Evening Discussion And Closing Remarks



Professor Anthony McCarthy (CHAIR): Consultant Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH) and National Maternity Hospital; Clinical Director, Elm Mount, SVUH

Mary Cullen: Group Analyst and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist; Board Member, Community Action Network; Former Chair, Southside Partnership

Dr Gabrielle O’Kelly: Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, UCD; Programme Director, HDip Mental Health Nursing, UCD

Terry Ball: Psychoanalyst; Subject Leader, Department of Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, Dublin Business School

Kim Spendlove: Psychoanalytic Practitioner; Tower Project, Probation Service; Criminologist



Gabrielle O’Kelly: I’m Gabrielle O’Kelly. Hearing Dr. Fierens speak about anxiety as a form of joy, I was very much put in mind of my background in nursing. I trained as a nurse when I was about 19 and recall how, after patients that you might have been looking after had died, one or two of us would be maybe washing the body and how in spite of all our respectful care we would find ourselves giggling. I suppose it was something to do with the anxiety of course, of being with somebody who was now dead after being alive just a short time earlier. We’d turn to the person and say ‘I’m so sorry’ and then we would start laughing again, half shocked at ourselves. And then I was also thinking today about Isabel Menzies who in 1959 wrote a very interesting paper called The Social System as a Defence Against Anxiety. This study was based in London where she had been called in to investigate why nurses were leaving hospital work. She carried out a lot of interviews, held focus groups, spoke to doctors, spoke to nurses. And in her findings, she said that at the core of the anxiety situation faced by nurses was the relationship with the patient and, of course, the connections with death. She gave a few very good examples of how the social system worked and one of these was, for example, the de-personalising of the patient when he is referred to as ‘bed nine’ rather than as a person. Another frequent example….


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