Written: 2018 | Published: November 01, 2023

The impact of emergency aid work on personal relationships: a psychodynamic study

This article explores the conscious and unconscious effects of emergency aid work on the personal relationships of those involved in it. The study involved six experienced staff members of an international non-governmental organization (INGO) who were asked to reflect freely on their relationships in unstructured interviews. The data were analysed using psychoanalytic theory for both surface and hidden content. The study found that every participant identified a significant external split that aid work created between home life and the field and described conscious strategies to manage this challenge. However, their narratives also indicated deeper inner dilemmas along with more unconscious strategies for protecting themselves against the anxiety generated by those dilemmas.


This article was originally published by Springer.

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