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Destigmatising mental illness?Professional politics and public education in Britain, 1870-1970$
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Vicky Long

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719085819

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719085819.001.0001

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Mad, bad and dangerous to know? Men, women and mental illness

Mad, bad and dangerous to know? Men, women and mental illness

(p.132) 4 Mad, bad and dangerous to know? Men, women and mental illness
Destigmatising mental illness?

Vicky Long

Manchester University Press

This chapter argues that the image of the violent, chronically-ill male mental patient predominated throughout the twentieth century, and has played a pivotal role in debates on health care policy and perceptions of risk and mental illness. It commences by tracing the historiographical debate on gender and mental illness, before analysing how the psychiatric nurses’ union mobilised the image of the violent and depraved madman to bolster claims for higher pay and to attempt to prevent women from nursing male patients. It explores how psychiatric nurses reignited these discourses and fuelled stigma by arguing for the retention of and investment in institutional provision following the inclusion of psychopathy into the remit of nursing under the 1959 Mental Health Act, and the Government’s decision to abolish mental hospitals and establish services in the community. The chapter concludes by arguing that the stigmatising image of patients generated by nurses in turn rebounded to tar the professional status of nurses.

Keywords:   Gender, Psychiatric nurses, Violence, Risk, Madman, Women, Stigma, Community, Patients

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