People working in extreme contexts, such as war zones, suffer emotional distress from experiencing unfiltered brutal reality and feelings of helplessness to alleviate human suffering because of resource and infrastructure constraints. However, they may not display their emotions in the field, as these contexts are characterised by a culture of silence, where people are inclined to suppress displaying their emotions in public despite being encouraged by their organisation to share them. How, then, do individuals working in extreme contexts manage emotional distress? We analysed field data from visits to war-torn environments and examined 53 personal diaries and interviews of people working with Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders. We illustrate how actors cope with emotional distress through journaling or writing personal diaries in their own personal and judgement-free space. We develop a model to explain how people manage difficult experiences in extreme situations by being silent rather than being silenced. We contribute by shedding light on a novel coping mechanism to deal with emotional distress and depict how silence in the field can be positive—a voluntary and even a vital self-censorship strategy for emotional survival, health and wellbeing in extreme situations.
|Number of pages||42|
|Publication status||Published - 2020|
|Event||Western Academy of Management (WAM) 2020 Conference - 61st Annual Meeting: Subversive Creativity - Hilton Waikoloa Hawaii, Hawaii, United States|
Duration: 18 Mar 2020 → 21 Mar 2020
Conference number: 61
|Conference||Western Academy of Management (WAM) 2020 Conference - 61st Annual Meeting|
|Location||Hilton Waikoloa Hawaii|
|Period||18/03/2020 → 21/03/2020|
Bibliographical noteCBS Library does not have access to the material
- Grand challenges
- War zone
- Extreme context
Rauch, M., & Ansari, S. (2020). When Silence is Not Just Golden but Vital for Emotional Survival: The Use of Personal Diaries as a Coping Strategy in Extreme Contexts. Paper presented at Western Academy of Management (WAM) 2020 Conference - 61st Annual Meeting, Hawaii, United States.