CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

The psychological management of stress in occupations that are deemed to be difficult might be a helpful resource for the workers confronted with tiresome tasks. But the psychological discourses and practices relating to stress defined as an individual ill-adaptation to the environment can also lead the victim of stress to develop a feeling of stigmatization and guilt: if she is not able to manage her stress, she is not really professional! While the nurses have been able to build claims on the basis of this logic, and while the bus drivers, assist-ed by their trade unions and by militant psychologists, have been able to reject this overly individualizing dimension, police forces have opted for a form of resistance based on the internal management of difficulties. Confronted with psycho-logists who are not well integrated in the professional police world and who offer a standardized management of stress, centered on actual emotional experience, police squads and their top officers have developed autonomous forms of stress regulation. In this context, feeling stressed and turning to a psychologist for help becomes a sign of individual failure or collective incapacity, indicating that the group and the squad leaders are unable to deal with difficulties. The construction of stress as the characteristic of a handful of fragile individuals therefore contributes to reinforcing the professional group of peers as the only group able to make work-related activities meaningful, and to prevent or deal with problems –with detrimental consequences for those who are not well integrated into it.


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