Mental health nursing

The place to start is with Chapter 7 of:

  • An Introduction to the Social History of Nursing
    Dingwall, R., A. M. Rafferty, and C. Webster
    London: Routledge, 1988

This is a sound basic text and it is worth paying attention to the way these authors approach the subject. They do not simply describe the events which happened but try to set them in the context of what was happening in society and to unravel why things happened the way they did.

Mental health history: books

Some important books which have influenced the writing of mental health history include:

  • Madness, morality and medicine. A study of the York retreat 1796-1914
    Digby, A
    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985
  • Museums of madness
    Scull, A T
    London: Penguin, 1982
  • The most solitary of afflictions: madness and society in Britain 1750-1900
    Scull, A T
    Yale: Yale University Press, 1993.

An extremely influential text that has had a profound impact on History of Medicine was originally published in French in 1963 but has been translated and frequently re-issued. It is currently available:

  • The birth of the clinic
    Foucault, M
    London: Routledge, 1997.

History of attendants on the insane: articles

The history of attendants on the insane has attracted a number of writers you will find useful articles in:

  • The International History of Nursing Journal (UK) 
  • Nursing History Review (USA) 
  • Social History of Medicine

Examples include:

  • Getting out of the asylum: understanding the confinement of the insane in the nineteenth century
    Wright, D
    Social History of Medicine 10 (1997): 137-155

Women and mental illness

Women and mental illness has attracted many authors and aroused controversy. One view which some take is to see women as victimised and stigmatised by mental illness.
Personal accounts can offer primary source material which you may like to analyse and discuss.

One Scottish autobiographical account which is a good read is:

  • The Christian Watt papers
    Fraser, D
    Aberdeen: Caledonian Books, 1983.

More general issues are discussed in:

  • The female malady: women, madness and English Culture 1830-1980
    Showalter, E
    London: Virago, 1987
  • Women's madness: misogyny or mental illness
    Ussher, J
    New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991

Role of nurses in relation to mental health and war

The role of nurses in relation to mental health and war gets some attention in the literature especially in relation to the nazi doctors and nurses in the last war:

  • Psychiatry German Society and the Nazi euthanasia programme
    Burleigh, M
    Social History of Medicine 7 (1994): 213-228

If this interests you there is also the work of Hilda Steppe about the Nazi nurses. She has a Chapter in:

  • Nursing history and the politics of welfare
    Rafferty, A M; Robinson, J; Elkan, R
    London: Routledge, 1997

General nursing

Nurses and nursing in more general terms could be looked at. You would need to be careful to decide what period you are interested in, make sure you are aware of what is going on in society in order to set your work in context.

  • Dr Conolly's attendants at the Hanwell Asylum 1839-1852
    Haw, C
    History of Nursing Society Journal 3, No 1 (1990): 26-58
  • Reflections of a mental nurse in the 1950's
    Nolan, P
    History of Nursing Society Journal 5, No 3 (1994): 150-156
  • Trained for what? A history of mental nursing and its training
    Nolan, P
    History of Nursing Society Journal 4 No 3 (1992): 131-142
  • The servant, the poet and the doctor: an example of 18th century psychiatric care
    Nolan, P.,
    History of Nursing Society Journal 3 No 2 (1990): 3-14
  • An historical study of psychiatric nursing in the 1950s: nurses views
    Podmore, J
    History of Nursing Bulletin 2 No 4 (1988): 16-23 

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