Knowledge, Empathy, and Emotion in a Medical Encounter

John Heritage and Anna Lindström

in Emotion in Interaction

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730735
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950034 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics

Knowledge, Empathy, and Emotion in a Medical Encounter

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Building upon Sacks’ ideas concerning the social organization of subjective experience, this chapter presents a case study on the ways in which a British community nurse responds to her client’s disclosures concerning difficulties in bonding with her newborn daughter. Over a series of weekly home visits, the nurse attempts to reassure her client that she will soon form an appropriate emotional connection with her child. Initially, she offers generalised statements about the future course of the mother-child bond, but later on, she addresses the mother’s experience more directly, also offering empathic parallels between the mother’s situation and her own experience of similar concerns after the birth of her son. While the mother responds to the generalized statements in a minimal fashion, she receives the empathic parallels in a full hearted manner.

Keywords: experience; knowledge; medicine; nursing; depression; anxiety; health visiting

Chapter.  8119 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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