Remember Me
Or use your Academic/Social account:


Or use your Academic/Social account:


You have just completed your registration at OpenAire.

Before you can login to the site, you will need to activate your account. An e-mail will be sent to you with the proper instructions.


Please note that this site is currently undergoing Beta testing.
Any new content you create is not guaranteed to be present to the final version of the site upon release.

Thank you for your patience,
OpenAire Dev Team.

Close This Message


Verify Password:
Verify E-mail:
*All Fields Are Required.
Please Verify You Are Human:
fbtwitterlinkedinvimeoflicker grey 14rssslideshare1
Traynor, Michael; Evans, Alicia (2014)
Publisher: Wiley Blackwell
Languages: English
Types: Article
Nursing has a gendered and religious history, where ideas of duty and servitude are present and shape its professional identity. The profession also promotes idealised notions of relationships with patients and of professional autonomy both of which are, in practice, highly constrained or even impossible. This paper draws on psychoanalytic concepts in order to reconsider nursing’s professional identity. It does this by presenting an analysis of data from two focus group studies involving nurses in England and Australia held between 2010 and 2012. The studies gave rise to data where extremely negative talk about nursing work seemed to produce, or to be expressed with, a high degree of energy, and a particular kind of enjoyment. In our analysis we focus on the nurses’ apparent enjoyment derived from their expression of a position of powerlessness in which they describe themselves as ‘slaves’ or ‘martyrs’ in the healthcare system. We interpret this as jouissance and suggest that the positions of slave or martyr provide a possible response to what we argue is the impossibility of the nurse’s role. We argue that a remnant of a quasi-religious ethic within the profession makes it acceptable for nurses to talk about self-sacrifice and powerlessness as part of their working subjectivity. We further argue that this analysis offers a new consideration of the issue of power and professional identity in nursing that goes beyond seeing nurses as simply overpowered by, or engaged in a gendered power struggle with other professional groups. We suggest that powerlessness and victimhood hold particular attractions and advantages for nurses and are positions that are more available to nurses than to other occupational groups. This research shows how psychoanalytic theory can help produce new insights into the problems and complexity of nursing and extend existing study of the professions.
  • The results below are discovered through our pilot algorithms. Let us know how we are doing!

    • ATKINS, K. 2005. Self and Subjectivity, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing.
    • BENNER, P., TANNER, C. A. & CHESLA, C. 1996. Expertice in nursing practice. Caring, clinical judgement and ethics, New York, Springer Publishing Company.
    • BENNER, P. & WRUBEL, J. 1989. The Primacy of Caring: stress and coping in health and illness, California, Addison-Wesley.
    • BRADSHAW, A. 2009. Measuring nursing care and compassion: the McDonaldised nurse? Journal of Medical Ethics, 35, 465-468.
    • EVANS, A. M., PEREIRA, D. A. & PARKER, J. M. 2008. Occupational distress in nursing: A psychoanalytic reading of the literature. Nursing Philosophy, 9, 195-204.
    • FREUD, S. [1920] 1984 Beyond the Pleasure Principle. On Metaspychology: The theory of Psychoanalysis. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
    • HEGEL, G. [1807] 1977. Phenomenology of Spirit, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
    • LACAN, J. 1957. THE SEMINAR OF JACQUES LACAN BOOK V The Formations of the Unconscious 1957 - 1958 Translated by Cormac Gallagher from unedited French typescripts.
    • LACAN, J. 1988a. The seminar of Jacques Lacan / Bk.2, The ego in Freud's theory and in the technique of psychoanalysis, 1954-1955 / with notes by John Forrester, New York ; London, Norton.
    • LACAN, J. 1988b. The seminar of Jacques Lacan / Book 1, Freud's papers on technique 1953-1954, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
    • LACAN, J. 1992a. The death drive. In: MILLER, J.-A. (ed.) The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959-1960. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book 7. London: Tavistock/Routledge.
    • LAWLOR, D. 2009. Against Anxiety: Rereading 50 Years OnTest of Time: A Case Study in the Functioning of Social Systems as a Defence Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 14, 523 - 530.
    • MARQUIS, B., LILLIBRIDGE, J. & MADISON, J. 1993. Problems and progress as Australia adopts the Bachelor's degree as the only entry to nursing practice. Nursing Outlook, 41, 135-140.
    • MENZIES, I. E. P. 1960. A case study in the functioning of social systems as a defence against anxiety: A Report on a Study of the Nursing Service of a General Hospital. Human Relations, 13, 95-121.
    • NELSON, S. 1995. Humanism in nursing: the emergence of the light. Nursing Inquiry, 2, 36-43.
    • NIETZSCHE, F. 1994. On the Genealogy of Morality, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
    • PALEY, J. 2002. Caring as a Slave Morality. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 40, 25-35.
    • PASK, E. J. 2005. Self-sacrifice, self-transcendence and nurses' professional self. Nursing Philosophy, 6, 247-254.
    • RAFFERTY, A. M. 1996. The Politics of Nursing Knowledge, London, Routledge.
    • RICKETT, B. 2010. Working without sacrifice: Acceptance and resistance to dominant discourse around women's occupational risk. Feminism & Psychology, 20, : 260-266.
    • RICOEUR, P. 1970. Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation, New Haven, Yale University Press.
    • SAFOUAN, M. 2000. Jouissance and the death drive. The seminar of Moustafa Safouan. New York: Other Press
    • TRAYNOR, M. 1996. A literary approach to managerial discourse after the NHS reforms. Sociology of Health and Illness, 18, 315-340.
    • TRAYNOR, M. 1999. Managerialism and Nursing: beyond profession and oppression, London, Routledge.
    • ZENTNER, O. 2012. Hateloving in the transference The Letter, 49, 81-94.
    • ŽIŽEK, S. 2005. Interrogating the real, London, Continuum.
  • No related research data.
  • No similar publications.

Share - Bookmark

Cite this article