Sunday, 4 October 2009

Conflict, Commercial Reasoning and the Appearance of Cello

Perhaps like me you found the Little Ted case disturbing. As a parent I can empathise with the parents involved. As a nurse with a research interest in the impact on adults of child abuse I can imagine the fears and anxieties of those parents whose children attended Little Ted's. I think it will take some time for the parents to accept that their children are safe. The case perhaps highlights the fragile sense of safety we construct when we see our children left to be cared for by others. Another disturbing aspect of the case, and there were too many to discuss here, was the knowledge that once Vanessa George has served her sentence, she is entitled to a life free from vigilante attacks or intrusion by the media – The Telegraph, this weekend estimated that this was likely to cost the tax payer £1 million a year. Like some of the parents, I found this information a little unpalatable.

This week I also heard from a colleague who had recently been involved in taking a decision about the future of an employee in his organisation which was to be based upon something called sound commercial reasoning. In a nutshell, this apparently refers to when an organisation has to consider the cost of say fighting a claim for constructive dismal versus the cost of fighting the case or where simply to ‘get rid’ of an individual it is worth agreeing a price for them to go. This seemed an equally unpalatable set of consequences.

The issues in both these situations reminded me of the somewhat old fashioned notion of the psychological contract – (see David Guest’s work – what is the value of the psychological contract?) - whilst this notion generally refers to the unspoken but powerful dynamics that bind individuals to an organisation, its vision and culture and the consequences for the individual and the organisations when this trust is abused. Arguably we all have a psychological contract with the State. We expect the State to look after us, to protect us whilst not intervening too much in our lives. When such unconscious perceptions are challenged as in the Little Ted Case the damage is likely to be long lasting and not helpful.

Many thanks to my film going friend who weekly updates me on what I should be going out to see. This week it was ‘The Soloist’, an interesting coincidence as the film is about friendship and trust. I am led to believe that it is a film about befriending, starting out with a simplistic view of friendship and going on to demonstrate the many subtle complexities involved when two very different lives come together. Like the psychological contract does the value of real friendship lie in its ability to provide a sense of containment that promotes mental well-being?

My mental health and well being has been severely challenged this week. So it was a surprise to find some light relief, and from such an unexpected quarter. Cello, a 10 week old Australian Labradoodle arrived this weekend – don’t ask - and has been a source of great joy.

Puppies, of course start from a position of unconditional positive regard, it’s humans that have the ability to change all that.