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McCluskey, U. (2013). Fear Free Exploratory Care-giving: A Challenge for Therapists in the Present Social, Political, and Cultural Environment. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 7(2):148-167.

(2013). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 7(2):148-167

Fear Free Exploratory Care-giving: A Challenge for Therapists in the Present Social, Political, and Cultural Environment

Una McCluskey

This paper explores the nature of the support required to sustain those who take up care-giving to others as a profession and what can go wrong when care-givers are not helped to regulate their own systems for self-defence in the face of perceived threat to them from those in their care. As a way of investigating the dynamics involved, the report of an official investigation into the care of children in residential institutions in Ireland is examined. This report documented horrific abuse of children by those who were looking after them. The paper postulates a link (based on the authors work with over 400 professional care-givers) between early responses to trauma and dominant/submissive forms of care-giving in adult life. The basic thesis is that if care-givers respond to threat by behaving out of their own fear system, thereby behaving in a dominant or submissive way to the source of the threat, as opposed to seeking care and support themselves, the “caring” situation is fraught and potentially very dangerous. The author draws on the work of Heard and Lake, her own research and her experience of exploring the dynamics of attachment in adult life with professional care-givers to suggest the way forward in supporting those who take up “caring positions” in society.

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