Death Work

Death Work : Police, Trauma and the Psychology of Survival

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Contemporary urban police officers are routinely exposed to the death of others, as well as to frequent and profound encounters with their own mortality. Here, Vincent Henry draws on two disparate bodies of theory and research - policing and the psychology of human responses to death - to illuminate how officers and their subculture are shaped by exposures to death. Through extensive field observation and structured interviews with NYPD officers, Henry defines and distinguishes the range and types of exposures to death in four "task environments": the rookie cop, patrol sergeant, homicide detective, and crime scene technician. He differentiates the officers' experience from others involved in death work, such as doctors, soldiers, and rescue workers, by exploring their singular occupational culture - the potential for violent death, the ritual of police funerals, strong in-group solidarity. Ultimately, the book reveals patterns of psychological transformation and social consequences of police encounters with death. Henry identifies common themes, including psychic numbing, the death imprint image, suspicion of counterfeit nurturance, death guilt, and the quest to make meaning. With a foreword by Robert Jay Lifton and a chapter devoted to the local police response to the World Trade Center attacks, Death Work will be of interest to psychologists and criminal justice experts, as well as police officers eager to gain insight into their unique relationship to more

Product details

  • Hardback | 414 pages
  • 162.56 x 233.68 x 35.56mm | 703.06g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195157656
  • 9780195157659
  • 1,180,581

Review quote

"Vincent Henry introduces a new and important line of inquiry into the emotionally dangerous labor of American police officers by offering up a considered appraisal of how NYPD cops approach, cope with, and more or less survive their recurrent and seemingly relentless occupational encounters with death. Scholarly, literate, tightly focused but broadly framed, Death Work is a must read for those who seek to understand both the psychological demands and cultural context of urban policing. By taking readers into the often helpful, if numbing, routines worked out on the ground for the grim yet necessary business of attending to the dead, Henry casts unusual light on matters surprisingly ignored in studies of the police work. This is a read that sticks with one long after putting it down. And properly so."--John Van Maanen, Ph.D., Erwin Schell Professor of Organization Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technologyshow more

About Vincent E. Henry

Vincent E Henry, Ph.D., recently retired from a 21-year career in the NYPD, where he held the rank of Sergeant-Special Assignment and was Commanding Officer of the Special Projects Unit in the Police Commissioner's Office of Management Analysis and Planning. The first American police officer to be named a Fulbright Scholar, he earned his doctorate from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York (John Jay) and is currently Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Pace University in New more

Table of contents

Foreword ; Introduction: The Death and Policing Nexus ; 1. Death Work: The General Context ; 2. Police Survivors of Death Encounters: Theoretical Perspective and Strategy of Inquiry ; 3. "Becoming a Cop": Basic Social and Psychological Processes ; 4. The Rookie's Experience: Introduction to Death ; 5. Patrol Sergeants: Routinization of the Death Encounter ; 6. Crime Scene Detectives: "Technicizing" the Death Encounter ; 7. Homicide Detectives: Emotional Reactions to Violent Death ; 8. Police Survivors: Genuine Threats to the Sense of Immortality ; 9. Reflections and Observations ; Epilogue: September 11, 2001show more

Rating details

6 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 17% (1)
4 33% (2)
3 50% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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