Title: Lying Down in the Ever-Falling Snow
Authors: Wendy Austin et al.
Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Release Date: May 1, 2013
Blurb: First used to describe the weariness the public felt toward media portrayals of societal crises, the term compassion fatigue has been taken up by health professionals to name—along with burnout, vicarious traumatization, compassion stress, and secondary traumatic stress—the condition of caregivers who become “too tired to care.” Compassion, long seen as the foundation of ethical caring, is increasingly understood as a threat to the well-being of those who offer it.
Through the lens of hermeneutic phenomenology, the authors present an insider’s perspective on compassion fatigue, its effects on the body, on the experience of time and space, and on personal and professional relationships. Accounts of health professionals, alongside examinations of poetry, images, movies, and literature, are used to explore the notions of compassion, hope, and hopelessness as they inform the meaning of caring work.
Review: I have read a little about compassion fatigue before, but in order to read this, you don't really need to know about it since they go into great detail. I liked how the authors used the metaphor of lying down in the snow to explain compassion fatigue – the burden keeps getting heavier, you’re still expected to do your job, but you’re just so tired/indifferent that you just shut – or lie – down. In order to get out of extreme winter weather you need tools – it’s the same with compassion fatigue. You need training, resources and support in order to keep being a compassionate health professional.
Some of the language might be too academic – admittedly, I hadn’t heart of “hermeneutic phenomenology” before and there are lots of notes after each chapter, and at times I wondered why the authors had decided to put some of the health professionals’ accounts where they did. But still, I learned a lot from the book, and do recommend it to others. Especially health professionals, but also others who are interested in learning more about compassion fatigue – in health professionals as well as in others.
Rating: 3 bookshelves out of 5.
Disclaimer: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Wilfrid Laurier UniversityPress for the purpose of a review.