Professor Gillian Bendelow is a sociologist of health and medicine whose research has addressed the complex relationship between emotion, health and illness. Her work is influenced by Hochschild's social theory of emotions as being biologically generated, but shaped and managed socially, hence providing the essential link, not just between mind and body, but across mind body and society. Her doctoral research initiated sociocultural approaches to clinical and academic understandings of pain, presented and published in many formats including her book ‘Pain and Gender (Pearson Education 2000)’. These insights have been used to address other complex conditions such as chronic illness, medically unexplained symptoms, stress and mental illness in her empirical research and publications such as Health Emotion and the Body (Polity Press 2009).
More recently she was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship from the British Academy to work in collaboration with Sussex Police and Sussex Partnership Mental Health Trust to examine the extraordinarily high rates of police detentions of highly distressed and mentally ill individuals who are detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 from the seaside cliffs, highways, railways and other public places across Sussex and the south coast. This programme of research is ongoing in the School of Applied Social Science.