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Befriending the elderly: using the free association narrative interview technique and psychoanalytic concept of countertransference to explore the befriending experience

Wainwright, Katie (2018) Befriending the elderly: using the free association narrative interview technique and psychoanalytic concept of countertransference to explore the befriending experience. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

Research has shown that loneliness and social isolation have a significant negative impact on the physical and psychological health of older adults living in the UK, impacting not only on their quality of life, but on society as a whole through increased use of health services. There is a movement, however, that is committed to alleviating loneliness in older adults through befriending: where an unrelated volunteer gives their time to provide companionship on a regular basis to an individual in their own home. Drawing on the author’s personal experience as a befriender, there is an emotive and affective dimension to caring, that is often contradictory and conflictual, and that is missing from the current, predominantly descriptive qualitative literature in this area. Applying psychoanalytic concepts to sociological and psychological research, specifically the free association narrative interview technique (Hollway and Jefferson, 2000) and using transference and countertransference to support analysis and interpretation, produces data that contradicts previous views of the volunteer as rational, intentional, and coherent in their understanding and explanation of their own behaviour. This study has shown that the befriending experience is highly affective and often conflictual, producing similar anxiety that the both the befriender and the organisation through which they volunteer strive to alleviate. There are conflicting tensions between caring and sacrifice and in between being a friend but in fact restricted in the ‘behaviours’ that constitute this friendship. A richer understanding of the experience of befriending, from the point of view of the befriender, can help support organisations in the recruitment and retention of volunteer befrienders, as well as helping to develop further befriending services for older people based on this new knowledge.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0500 Psychoanalysis
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Katie Wainwright
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2018 09:23
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2018 09:34
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/22438

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