as self) ‘How often do I have to tell you to leave my bloody stuff alone! That’s not my stuff. It’s client’s stuff!’… I said, ‘I’m not having trouble with clients just because this stupid wife of mine has shifted stuff! (Voice grows angrier) ‘Now will you leave that stuff alone!! Look, I have just told you (slams desk) Leave that stuff alone .’ (Whispers) It’s not registering…. I, I’ve realized this… It’s no good. It’s no good doing that…. I’ve just got to say, (In calm even voice) ‘Oh no. Don’t touch it dear’. She’s already forgotten that 2 minutes ago I’d grabbed the thing away from her. (Whining voice as wife) ‘You, you are always, you are always grabbing things away from me!’ (Assumes own voice; speaking sadly) No. No. She has already forgotten it… At least, I, I, I am, I am accepting. I am getting… It’s becoming more a part of me the fact that ah…these things are just not registering. It is no good growling at her because 2 minutes later she does the same thing again!
Without going into a full analysis of the differences, it is sufficient to note the vast gap between the two men’s manner of speaking, contrasting the predominant anger, rage and slide into guilt of the first speaker with the gentleness and concern and exasperation of the second. Moreover, this difference in approach reflects personality, prior experience in caregiving and domestic work before their spouses became demented; and it highlights significantly the different nature of their (male) experiences as carers. A concentration on the differences in emotion between the speakers assists in a finely grained analysis of carers’ experiences. It contributes, too, to a more complex gender analysis (Jacobus, 1986), since intertextual comparisons between elderly carers’ texts in tone and emotional content indicate points at which male and female carers cross gender-specific boundaries. Furthermore, it suggests that specific verbal content, such as the repeated denigratory comments about the
demented person (as well as the abusive emotional content) may help in identifying situations of potential psychological and physical abuse.