Not 'Going There': Limits to the Professionalisation of our Emotional Lives

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Abstract

This article takes as its starting point the thesis that there has been a shift towards emotional openness in Anglo-American societies and that, as a result, we are increasingly at ease with talking to professionals, those who are trained to listen, when faced with difficulties in our emotional lives. Such assumptions are implicit, if unexamined, in recent mental health policy in the UK. Drawing on findings from the first British general population study of views and experiences of emotional support, it is argued that, while there has indeed been a cultural acceptance of the notion that it is good to talk, this has not translated into a retreat into professionalised spaces. How, then, can we understand these limits or, to draw on a popular idiom, why do people choose not to ‘go there’? To begin to answer these questions, four areas are explored: the persistence and significance of non talk-based. responses to emotional difficulties, the constraints of and on emotions talk, evidence for an emergent vulnerable self in need of professional intervention and wider cultural beliefs about need, privacy and the role of strangers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-144
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • emotions talk
  • therapeutic professionals
  • cultural beliefs
  • privacy boundaries
  • need

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