Second‐Hand Emotion? Exploring the Contagion and Impact of Trauma and Distress in the Asylum Law Context

32 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2013

See all articles by Helen Baillot

Helen Baillot

Independent

Sharon Cowan

University of Edinburgh - School of Law

Vanessa E. Munro

University of Nottingham

Date Written: November 2013

Abstract

Applicants' accounts of experiences of fear, trauma, violence, and persecution are central to the process of claiming asylum. These narratives are, at a human level, primed to provoke emotional responses, not only in the narrator but also in those to whom the account is relayed. In this article, we explore the vectors of emotionality that permeate asylum decision‐making in the United Kingdom, focusing particularly on the risk faced by the professionals involved of suffering vicarious trauma. More specifically, based on a series of 104 semi‐structured interviews with asylum stakeholders and observation of 48 appeals to the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First‐tier Tribunal, this article identifies the adoption by legal and quasi‐legal professionals of emotional coping strategies – of detachment and denial of responsibility – that risk being deployed in maladaptive ways that jeopardize the prospects for justice.

Suggested Citation

Baillot, Helen and Cowan, Sharon and Munro, Vanessa E., Second‐Hand Emotion? Exploring the Contagion and Impact of Trauma and Distress in the Asylum Law Context (November 2013). Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 40, Issue 4, pp. 509-540, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2353138 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2013.00639.x

Helen Baillot (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Sharon Cowan

University of Edinburgh - School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

Vanessa E. Munro

University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

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