The invisible bodies of nursing
Neehoff, Shona Maree
Nursing practice is a very physical business. The work that most nurses do involves the use of their bodies as the primary tool of their work. Nurses take their physical selves to patients in order to carry out that work, the body of the nurse is often in direct contact with the bodies of patients that they care for. This thesis is about what I have called the 'invisible bodies of nursing', and I describe these throughout the body of the thesis. The physical body of the nurse, the body of practice, and the body of knowledge. The physical body of the nurse is absent in most nursing literature, it is sometimes inferred but seldom discussed. My contention is that the physical body of the nurse is invisible because it is tacit. Much nursing practice is invisible because it is perceived by many nurses to be inarticulable and is carried out within a private discourse of nursing, silently and secretly. Nursing knowledge is invisible because it is not seen as being valid or authoritative or sanctioned as a legitimate discourse by the dominant discourse. I approach these issues through an evolving 'specular' lens. Luce Irigaray's philosophy of the feminine and her deconstructing and reconstructing of psychoanalytic structures for women inform my work. Michel Foucault's genealogical approach to analysing discourses is a powerful tool for exploring the history of the creation of the nurse and offers critical insights in to how nursing is perceived today. Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology provides the flesh for my discussions about the embodied practice of nurses as beings in the world. Nursing's struggle for recognition is ongoing. I discuss strategies that nurses could use to make themselves more 'visible' in healthcare structures. The exploration of the embodied self of the nurse and through this the embodied knowledge of nursing is nascent. I hope to provide for nurses some food for both thought and discussion.
Advisor: Gillett, Grant; Burrows, Lisette
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Bioethics Centre
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: nursing; professional recognition; feminist theory
Research Type: Thesis
xvii, 445 leaves :ill., maps ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references. "April 2005"