In an effort to better understand difficult emotions experienced when interacting with patients with dementia, the author undertook a short series of observations in a dementia ward and reflected on associated feelings.
The result was an experience of two major feeling states: unwantedness and connection. The feeling of connection was associated with interaction with staff and the feeling of unwantedness when staff appeared task-orientated. The feeling of unwantedness was unpicked in effort to understand why staff might be depriving patients of connection.
Two pragmatic reasons included shortage of time and interaction being unduly effortful. Also explored is Isabel Menzies Lyth’s social defence mechanism and Steven Sabat’s theory of malignant positioning.
The author concludes on the power of unconscious processes in healthcare and his attitudes around dementia care.