Employees often use dis-identification strategies such as humor or cynicism to cope with emotional difficulties at work. In this paper, we show how dis-identification collapses among Danish correctional officers because of specific emotional contradictions arising from the ‘dirty’ aspects of their work. Correctional officers face the emotional dilemma of having to both get involved with the inmates to rehabilitate them and be suspicious of them to maintain security. At the same time, they have to deal with the stigma of their job and cannot easily vent their emotional experiences with outsiders. It therefore becomes difficult to uphold a positive and coherent sense of self. In order to maintain a dignified sense of self and a positive attitude towards work correctional officers construct a space of professional indifference.