438.5 Narratives about illness by military police officers in Ceara

Friday, August 3, 2012: 10:20 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Larissa SALES , Departamento de Ciências Sociais, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, CE, Brazil
The present study analyzes symbolic categories elaborated by military police officers taking leave of absence for psychological assistance, aiming to understand how these social actors create meaning on the process of illness in relation to their work. We investigate the trajectory of these police officers, taking health into account as a thread of narrative. Furthermore, we discuss the process of treatment provided by the military police institution until the readmission to working activity. Those narratives are grounded on police officers’ everyday lives, based on morally produced categories such as humiliation, shame and fear. Such representations may point out to a reality socially and historically constructed, with roots in the processes of idealizing the context of work, which in some cases may generate psychological suffering.Officers under medical assistance consider that their work offers unhealthy conditions, as expressed in discourses of denouncement, through which they present themselves subjected to exhausting routines associated to physical exhaustion, stress and suffering, besides the risk of death involved with the practice. These aspects inflict on psychological damages, at times even permanently, which in severe cases have led to suicide. Such a pressure on the body, and the building up of the self under this pressure of exercising duty, may ignite the appearance of a symptomatology, leading to serious health problems, especially related to mental health such as depression. In other cases, these pressures are used to justify violent or illegal acts. In this sense, this paper is based on fieldwork conducted at the facility responsible for the assistance of military officers taking leave of absence for health treatment, with in-depth interviews with these social actors in the context of interaction with the medical staff inside a clinic.