Ronald Preston (1979) used Kafka's analogy (he referred to the impact on others of serious illness or bodily deformity as the "Gregor effect") to study the reactions of nurses caring for the chronically ill and aged. He was interested specifically in reactions to people whom he labelled "acutely ambigious" in that they are like us and yet not like us (Preston 1979:37-46).
- impulsive reactions (startle, flight)
- prejudiced reactions (based on preconceived social values rather than emotion)
- obscenity reactions (attempt to resolve ambiguity through identification with deformed or disabled)
- ritual separation (banishment or sequestration of the sick as a prelude to the separation of death)
- humanitarian (observor broadens perspective and expands what it is to be human to resolve the ambiguity the condition causes, embracing the patient as fully human - often can become superficial attempt to do good rather than sincere)
- spiritual transcendence (often tied to religion has a firmer basis than humanitarian to resolve ambiguity)
- normalisation (conceptualises the the sick and disabled as just like us thereby deflecting any threat)
- diversionary tactics (such as using black humour)
- induration (may develop gradually and result in diminished perception of the ambiguity (Preston 1979:47-84))
Howard Brody (2002) Stories of Sickness. Oxford University Press.
Ronald Preston (1979). The dilemmas of care: social and nursing adaptations to the deformed, the disabled, and the aged.