From Jonathan Harvey
I am writing this brief note from my hospital bed. I have broken an ankle following a slip and am having an open reduction, internal fixation operation to fix my Fibula bone later today. Eleven years ago, I had a brain injury which was far more serious, and during that time and for several years after, I required a fair amount of care and support.
Being in hospital again has made think carefully about the issues of dependence, independence and interdependence. In particular this experience has reminded me of the problematic way I conceptualise the importance of independence and how I view dependence as something to be avoided at all costs. I would argue that the polarised way in which I conceptualise dependence and independence may in no small part, be due to the melancholic way society seems to view dependence.
In my experience, whilst in hospital, dependency seems to be the ‘norm’ and as such there appears to be an acceptance of it’s inevitability. However, I would suggest that as soon as I leave the hospital and (re)enter society the glorification of independence and the uncomfortable suspicion of dependence shall reappear.
I have been pondering the way that dependence seems to be acceptable in spaces of (temporary) poor health as compared to the way society seeks to be ashamed of, or even deny it’s existence. I would suggest that contemporary society accepts the inevitability of dependence, as it is a temporary inevitability in spaces such as hospitals. For me, the crucial word here is temporary. As soon as a dependency dares to rear it’s head in spaces other than those where it is accepted as ‘the norm’, for example in everyday life, then melancholic notions of lack return.
I would suggest that society and it’s members (including me) could benefit from the notions of dependence and independence being conceptualised in a fluid and changeable way; a way where systems dependence and independence are no longer treated in opposition and are replaced by a greater acceptance of complex systems of interdependence in the complexity of contemporary life.