King's College London

Research portal

The Trojan War Inside Nursing: An Exploration of Compassion, Emotional Labour, Coping and Reflection

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Adele Banks van Zyl, Ian Noonan

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1192-1196
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Nursing
Issue number20
Early online dateNov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2018


  • The Trojan War Inside_VAN ZYL_Publishedonline12November2018_GREEN AAM

    The_Trojan_War_Inside_VAN_ZYL_Publishedonline12November2018_GREEN_AAM.pdf, 199 KB, application/pdf


    Accepted author manuscript

    This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in 'British Journal of Nursing', copyright © MA Healthcare, after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see

King's Authors


Compassionate care is fundamental to nursing. However, when delivering compassionate care, the expected emotional state may not always spontaneously arise, risking a dissonance between authentic and displayed emotions. Nurses may therefore be required to engage in some form of emotional regulation strategy, to conform with assumed professional rules on emotional display. In both the dissonance and emotional regulation, there are risks on which nurses need to reflect. In this article, the end of the Trojan War as depicted in Homer's The Iliad and Virgil's The Aeneid is used as an allegory to illustrate the dangers and advantages of using response- or antecedent-focused strategies for emotional regulation. Response-focused strategies are reactive in nature—they could build resilience over time but may leave students and newly qualified nurses feeling exposed. An ‘emotional curriculum’ to include emotional intelligence in nurse education could equip the students with a more proactive approach to developing resilience rather than defensive practice. Using a narrative as an allegory may help to explore the application of these concepts in nursing practice.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454