Journal: European Journal for Nursing History and Ethics (2019/1)

The first issue of European Journal for Nursing History and Ethics and includes some articles that could be of interest to the h-madness community.

“The first issue of the European Journal for Nursing History and Ethics focuses on a young and innovative field of nursing research: research on the objects of nursing, for which Lucia Artner and Isabel Atzl coined the term “Material Care Studies” in their leading article in this issue. The “Practice Turn” in recent years has shifted the focus not only towards the practices of nursing but also its objects. Simultaneously, dealing with and using objects in nursing always also implies an ethical dimension in the relationship between nurse and patient: One might think of handling modesty and disgust when using instruments for emptying a patient’s bowels or of the implementation and daily management of a feeding tube for artificial feeding”


Isabel Atzl and Lucia Artner, Material Care Studies

“This contribution outlines the meaning of Material Care Studies in terms of thematising and researching the material aspect of nursing and care, and what new insights and findings this approach can generate. Starting from a broad definition of care – which encompasses nursing as well as the help for people of all ages, in cases of sickness, disability, psychological or physical disorder, from physical and/or psychological support, advice and care (medical or otherwise) to medical assistance in the consulting room or operating theatre – Material Care Studies seeks to focus on the material aspect, examining and investigating nursing and care on the basis of things. We outline how Material Care Studies is informed by the recent discussions on material culture in general, we define historical things of nursing as material cultural heritage, and thus subjected to the requirements expected of other “special collections”. Moreover, mainly due to the historical legacy of nursing and care, Material Care Studies can also be located in the conflictive field of the gender-sensitive approaches taken in recent debates on care. Its raison d’être as a new scientific field comes from the specifics of how people interact with one another using things in situations of nursing and care, and of the specific approaches to physicality and corporeality related to nursing and care. The establishment of Material Care Studies does justice to the aspect of materiality, as there has been very little research until now into the concrete “materialities” of nursing and care or how things shape the processes involved”

Geertje Boschma, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Nursing Practice in the Netherlands, 1940–2010

“Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has been applied in mental and general hospitals in the Netherlands since 1939, but we know little about nurses’ role in the transformation brought about by the ECT machine and its use. Based on archival documents, interviews and a case study of nurses’ work in ECT at the university hospital in the city of Groningen, this article shows how nurses’ professional identity was depicted and changed within the application and practice of ECT. Although nursing was an integral part of ECT practice from the outset, it was also affected and changed by it, especially as public debate and controversy over ECT arose in 1970s. During this time mental health grew as an interdisciplinary field, pressuring nurses to articulate their psychiatric nursing expertise. New governmental ECT guidelines in the 1980s also shaped nurses’ work. Once protest over ECT subsided in the 1990s, reflecting a new acceptance of biological psychiatry, use of ECT increased again and nurses obtained a specialized role in ECT. The article concludes that whereas nursing’s traditional close ties to medical knowledge and practice has been a source of professional tension, the connection also gave nurses new opportunities to renegotiate their expertise when the use of ECT increased during the 1990s. It realigned them with medicine in new ways, opening new professional avenues in specialized ECT nursing practice.”


Martina Wernli, The Fake Three-Sided Key. Patient-Fabricated Duplicate Keys in Psychiatry around 1900

“This paper analyses the historical importance of objects in psychiatry – particularly their use in the contemporary teaching and training of nurses – with reference to a collection of duplicate keys from the Waldau clinic near Berne. The collection consists of approximately 90 objects, made by patients with the aim of using them to escape. The psychiatrist Walter Morgenthaler (1882–1965) collected these keys at the beginning of the 20th century, attached them to plates, gave them patients’ record numbers and used them for teaching. In these patient’s records, stories of the keys can be found. For the first time, these records allow for an analysis of the keys in the context of material culture”.

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