Care(less) encounters: early maternal distress and the haunted clinic
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In this paper we consider early maternal distress and clinical care, drawing on narratives of women interviewed to populate an Australian health information website. We consider the notion of ‘care barriers’, which has become popular in the biomedical literature as a means of explaining why ‘not enough’ women seek out clinical care. As an alternative to barriers we propose ‘care entanglements’, offering a way of conceptualizing socioculturally situated and biographically embedded formalized care. In part we argue that clinical encounters are ‘haunted’ by women’s biographies, circulating discourses, and the relational clinical moment, which accounts for why some women reject formalized care. However we also contend that many women have in fact already ‘slipped through’ to the clinic, whether this be in their adoption of medical language to describe their distress, or in their enactments in designated clinical spaces. Finally we reflect more broadly on the maternal, care and distress.
KeywordsMaternity Clinical care Subjectivity Narrative Psychoanalysis PND
First and foremost, we express our gratitude to all research participants who shared with us their personal stories of emotional distress. The paper is based on data collected within two research projects, funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Project (LP0990229) and Healthdirect Australia, a national, government owned, not-for-profit organisation. Thank you to Dr Kate Johnston-Ataata, who collected many interviews for the research that informed this paper, and to Maureen Robinson for her support. Renata Kokanović thanks RMIT University, which, through the RMIT University Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellowship, supported her completion of this paper. Finally, we are thankful to anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments that assisted us in refining the final version of this paper.
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