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4 ‘Subversive nurses’ Thinking critically does not mean simple criticism. It means not simply accepting information at face value in a non-critical or non-evaluating way. The essence of critical thinking centres not on answering questions but on questioning answers, so it involves questioning, probing, analyzing  and  evaluating. The most subversive people are those that ask questions.1 Introduction Some nurses in this study appeared to have adopted a ­predominantly subservient, unenquiring and unquestioning relationship with those in authority. While none of

in ‘Curing queers’
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Mental nurses and their patients, 1935–74

Anecdotal evidence of the testimonies of patients who received treatments for sexual deviations and medical attitudes towards them are scattered in the recorded accounts of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, intersex and queer/questioning (GLBTIQ) people. This book examines the plight of men who were institutionalised in British mental hospitals to receive 'treatment' for homosexuality and transvestism, and the perceptions and actions of the men and women who nursed them. It explores why the majority of the nurses followed orders in administering the treatment - in spite of the zero success-rate in 'straightening out' queer men - but also why a small number surreptitiously defied their superiors by engaging in fascinating subversive behaviours. The book is specifically about the treatments developed for sexual deviations in the UK. Transvestism was also treated fairly widely; however, not to the same extent as homosexuality. After an examination of the oppression and suppression of the sexual deviant, the introduction of aversion therapies for sexual deviance is considered. During the 1930s-1950s, mental health care witnessed a spirit of 'therapeutic optimism' as new somatic treatments and therapies were introduced in mental hospitals. The book also examines the impact these had on the role of mental nurses and explores how such treatments may have essentially normalised nurses to implement painful and distressing 'therapeutic' interventions . The book interprets the testimonies of these 'subversive nurses'. Finally, it explores the inception of 'nurse therapists' and discusses their role in administering aversion therapy.

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fascinating subversive behaviours in order to avoid participating in this aspect of clinical practice. Chapter 4 examines and interprets the testimonies of these ‘subversive nurses’. By the 1970s, individuals were beginning to question the defini­ tion of ‘difference’. Gay men and women were starting to unite and promote  sexual and subcultural difference as positive and lifeenhancing as gay liberation emerged – individuals were actively and vocally refuting the sickness label and the treatment that had come to accompany it. This eventually led the APA to remove the term

in ‘Curing queers’
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ways and covertly undermine their superiors by engaging in some fascinating subversive behaviours. Essentially, these nurses were doing the opposite of some of the subordinate nurses: they were questioning the orders they had been given by those in authority. In parallel with some of the subordinate nurses, they also argued that their behaviours were based on the notion of beneficence. Nevertheless, in contrast to the subordinate nurses, the subversive nurses were upholding the principle of non-maleficence when they chose to engage in resistive practices. Indeed, one

in ‘Curing queers’

authority can work. There were others, however, who were able to covertly undermine their superiors by engaging in some fascinating subversive behaviours. Chapter 4 introduces the ‘subversive nurses’ in this book, and seeks to explore their testimonies, to discover how some nurses appeared to resist the powerful influences discussed above. Notes 1 Ursula Vaughan, interviewed 12 February 2010. Parts of this chapter have been recycled from Tommy Dickinson, Matt Cook, John Playle and Christine Hallett, ‘Nurses and Subordination: A Historical Study of 172 ‘Subordinate

in ‘Curing queers’