‘Comfortably numb:’ explorations of embodiment and recovery in an ethnography of operating theatres.
Ewart, L. and Blackman, S. 2022. ‘Comfortably numb:’ explorations of embodiment and recovery in an ethnography of operating theatres. in: Hayre, C, Muller, D and Hackett, P (ed.) Rehabilitation in Practice: Ethnographic Perspectives Springer. pp. 199-216
|Authors||Ewart, L. and Blackman, S.|
|Editors||Hayre, C, Muller, D and Hackett, P|
The operating theatre is an example of a complex medical environment which traditionally follows a positivist biomedical model of care. This model is widely accepted as appropriate for subjects such as surgery where diagnosis and treatment are extremely circumscribed and structural. We believe that ethnography provides an opportunity to witness human events in the context in which they occur to understand the embodied conduct of practices and skills exhibited during operating theatre work. In turn this may help healthcare professionals to grasp elements of the patient experience beyond the reach of many positivist research approaches. In this chapter we examine how patients make sense of their embodiment with a partially anaesthetised body during their surgical experience in what Goffman (1961) refers to as the ‘repair cycle’. The concept of ‘dystance’ is introduced to enable an understanding of the meaning patients attribute to the temporarily altered sensation of their anaesthetised body. By focusing on the patient’s subjective experience of reality during their surgery, an understanding of how divergence from experiences in the present creates a view of the body as dystanced will be proposed. How a dystanced body leads to the surgical team assuming agency for the anaesthetised part of the patient’s body will be discussed along with how patients use this to understand and come to terms with their perioperative bodily experience. Finally, the need for staff to maintain a backstage area (Goffman, 1961) in the perioperative environment and the effect seeing behind the scenes can have on the patient perspective is considered.
|Keywords||Ethnography; Operating theatres; Embodiment; Dystance; Anaesthesia; Surgery; Positionality; Agency; Goffman; Healthcare|
|Book title||Rehabilitation in Practice: Ethnographic Perspectives|
|Online||11 Feb 2022|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||24 Nov 2022|
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