Violence against psychiatric nurses is a difficult reality of work on in-patient psychiatry units. Health care providers and managers, nursing unions, and workplace protection agencies are looking for solutions to improve safety and quality of care. We are suggesting that simultaneous to this solution-seeking, there is also a need to critically reflect on the nature of violence itself within in-patient psychiatric settings. In this article we consider the gendered dynamics of power and violence within the in-patient psychiatric setting. The nursing profession is over 90% female. Given that violence in society often has a ‘gendered’ nature, and in light of a report from the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions which likened violence against nurses to domestic violence, we have put forth a view of the acute in-patient psychiatric milieu that considers gender and power in its analysis of violence against nurses. Intended to encourage enquiry into our pre-suppositions as health care providers, we use Foucauldian and feminist theories to up-end our notions of “anti-violence technologies”, and to consider the unique and risky position that psychiatric nurses occupy as carers, care providers, and “anti-violence officers”. We conclude by posing ethical questions which may be of interest for professional development, care planning, team building, and clinical ethics and education.
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This paper was conceived and written in the context of a graduate level Critical Theory course in the Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University. We thank the other students in the Theory 2017 class for the engaging discussion and debates that led to us developing this paper.
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Campbell, V.L.S., Foley, H.L., Vianna, K.W. et al. Folie du système? Preventing Violence Against Nurses in In-patient Psychiatry. Psychiatr Q 90, 413–420 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11126-019-09636-1