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Cole, J. (2012). Relocation, Gender, and Emotion: A Psycho-social Perspective on the Experiences of Military Wives, by Sue Jervis, Karnac, 2011.. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 2(1):107-110.

(2012). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 2(1):107-110

Book Reviews

Relocation, Gender, and Emotion: A Psycho-social Perspective on the Experiences of Military Wives, by Sue Jervis, Karnac, 2011.

Review by:
Julia Cole

Sue Jervis asserts that her book has 'two main aims: firstly, to provide a rare, detailed description of the use of a psychoanalytically informed, reflexive research method to achieve an in-depth understanding of social phenomena and, secondly to throw some much needed light onto the complex, intrapsychic, and interpersonal influences that impact upon ‘military wives’ who accompany members of the British Armed Forces to postings overseas'.

The author, Sue Jervis, PhD, MA, is a psycho-social researcher and a former independent psychodynamic counsellor, having trained at the Scottish Institute of Human Relations, and has been a counselling service manager and supervisor at various locations within Britain. Jervis has presented several papers on the emotional experiences of servicemen's wives, including The use of self as research tool which appeared in Clarke & Hoggett (2009).

The author introduces her book by describing her life as the wife of a Royal Navy officer, especially the emotional upheavals entailed in moving from posting to posting with her husband. She describes how, for the early years of her marriage, she was relatively stable, because she and her husband were stationed near a submarine base, and although they spent long periods apart due to his duties, she was able to pursue her career and develop friendships. However, this period of stability was followed by several overseas postings. During this period, her curiosity was aroused about how other wives coped with the emotions engendered by the loss of friendships, familiar territory, and easy geographic links to family. This led to her research about the experiences of other women in similar situations, and now to the publication of this book.

Jervis cites a formative event where she was criticised as being ‘disloyal’ for not arranging flowers for the tables of a formal officers' dinner. The experience caused her to reflect how powerful social influences and pressures can be on an individual's state of mind. The mutual threat to identity through this interaction was also seen as linked to the social context of the Royal Navy. Jervis decided to adopt a psycho-social approach to exploring an in-depth understanding of the emotional experiences of military wives that forms the basis of her research for this book.

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