Michael: The response to whistleblowers – shooting the messenger – is about what happens when people find that their “not-knowing” is challenged. One of the responses in the NHS is to become forceful in blocking unwelcome knowledge.


David: The experiences that nurses have on the ward is fundamentally counter to the motivation for entering nursing in the first place which is caring for ill and vulnerable people.


Michael: As welfare systems themselves become persecutory people now feel not simply that there’s a problem of how do I cope with the patients but how do I cope with the authorities that are supposed to be managing care.


David: These defences don’t work at the end of the day. They give rise to anxiety themselves. Our defences make things worse.


To hear the full conversation between Michael Rustin, David Armstrong and Elizabeth Cotton go here.


To listen to the podcasts of this conversation click on the links below:


1. Social defences against anxiety
2. How do people cope with anxiety at work?
3. Getting defensive
4. Shooting the messenger
5. Managerialism makes us mad
6. Why work affects us deeply
7. Crisis can be energising
8. We are anxious about losing our professional identities
9. How do we learn new ways of working?
10. How can we build relationships at work?


Surviving Work in Healthcare is a free online resource Surviving Work in Healthcare designed for people working on the frontline. The website is a joint project by Surviving Work and the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust offering podcasts, videos and survival guides that take a jargon free, de-stigmatizing and practical approach to addressing the real problems of working in healthcare.

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