Document Type: Commentary
University of Bath, Bath, UK; University of Lund, Lund, Sweden
The absence of compassion, argues the author, is not the cause of healthcare failures but rather a symptom of deeper systemic failures. The clinical encounter arouses strong emotions of anxiety, fear, and anger in patients which are often projected onto the clinicians. Attempts to protect clinicians through various bureaucratic devices and depersonalization of the patient, constitute as Menzies noted in her classic work, social defences, aimed at containing the anxieties of clinicians but ending up in reinforcing these anxieties. Instead of placing additional burdens on clinicians by bureaucratizing and benchmarking compassion, the author argues that proper emotional management and support is a precondition for a healthcare system that offers humane and effective treatment to patients and a humane working environment for those who work in it.