Alienation and Therapeutic Connection: A Phenomenological Account of Three Patients with Communication Disorders Associated with Cancers of the Head and Neck
Issue: Vol 2 No. 1 (2011)
Subject Areas: Linguistics
Humans connect when they communicate. Indeed, it is in this act of connecting that people regulate their relationships with others. However, this connectedness contrasts with the notion of being alienated in the face of impaired communication. For example, Van Riper and Erickson (1996) explained how the loss of communication could result in penalties, guilt, frustration, hostility and anxiety. The specific aims of the current qualitative, phenomenological study were to identify and document instances of alienation in three individuals with oncogenic communication and/or swallowing disorders. The results suggest that the participants were alienated inasmuch as they experienced fear in response to their life-threatening illnesses; loss of control, autonomy and choice in relation to communication and health goals; and depression, meaninglessness and loneliness, associated with perceived changes in identity and belonging. Clinical reflections are presented in light of the practice implications suggested by these findings.
Author: Robert James Fourie, Máire Murphy