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.
perception in relation to the
use of aversion therapy to ‘cure’ homosexuality and transvestism.
In this way, it seeks to offer fresh insight into both patients’ and
nurses’ perspectives on these treatments. It uses testimonies of
patients and nurses to explore the subject in ways that have not been
attempted before, and to texture more broadly focused histories of
these treatments and this period. This echoes recent moves towards
micro-histories particularly when looking at sexuality and nursing, as
a way of framing and answering questions about
conflict with her or his gender role enters
a treatment programme for transsexuals, he argues, but is also the result
of a historical development. His historical analysis of this transformation
was based on his reading of the secondary histories of ‘sexual inversion’,
hermaphroditism and transvestism.2 Here I hope to present a more profound
analysis of that very transformation based on hermaphrodite case histories.
I hope to demonstrate, that what was once a social, moral and sometimes
legal conflict concerning a person inscribed as male or female whose physical
ideal was threatened by the
concept of effeminacy and transvestism. Indeed, many simply yielded
to the prevailing attitude of heterosexual domesticity, which was promoted within the film. Albert Holliday recalls how the pressure of this
‘propaganda’ largely influenced his decision to get married:
It seemed that every film I watched and book I read made marriage look
like such an attractive option. Maybe I was brainwashed [. . .] I didn’t want
to be lonely and there were a lot of questions from my family regarding me
getting married [. . .] I had met a girl at art
the mini-skirt and bikini for women and long hair for men, defied
conventional norms of behaviour and appearance. Popular music was
changing as the glam rock era emerged and David Bowie appeared as
the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Peter Ackroyd
argues that Bowie challenged traditional gender roles and made
transvestism more broadly acceptable.42 There was also the emergence
of anti-establishment thinking, including challenges to the institution of psychiatry with the emergence of the ‘counter-psychiatry’
of the RMPA certificate for
admission to the register. They also agreed to the inclusion of psychology in the syllabus at the request of the RMPA.213
Training mental nurses regarding ‘sexual deviations’
There is a dearth of literature in nursing textbooks during this period
which discuss sexual deviations. The texts that do mention homosexuality and transvestism do so under the categories of ‘Sexual Perversions’,
‘Sexual Anomalies’ or ‘Sexual Disorders’.214 Furthermore, the emphasis
in these texts appears to be on describing these disorders rather than
77 Crowne, Pandion and Amphigenia, p. 99.
78 Ibid., p. 123.
79 Ibid., p. 279.
80 Ibid., p. 119.
81 Ibid., pp. 186–7.
82 Ibid., p. 97.
83 Robert H.F. Carver, ‘ “Transformed in Show”. The Rhetoric of Transvestism in
Sidney’s Arcadia’, English Literary Renaissance, 28:3 (2008), 323–52: 324.
84 Crowne, Pandion and Amphigenia, p. 305.
85 Ibid., pp. 291–2.
86 Carver, ‘Transformed in Show’, 306.
87 Winifred Schleiner, ‘Cross-Dressing and Transvestism in Renaissance Romances’,
The Sixteenth Century Journal, 19:4 (1988), 605–19: 619.
88 Nashe, The Vnfortunate
Popular culture and popular protest in early modern England
political culture of the State. As
important was the legitimation drawn from the claim that the community
of commoners opposed enclosure. Even where this was not the case, crowds
worked hard to represent themselves as the physical manifestation of community disapproval. To achieve this objective, they drew on the common social
and cultural resources. Riots were organised in the twin centres of village life –
hatched in the alehouse and announced in the church. They were deliberately
public and carnivalesque in character, a colouring emphasised by masking
-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety
(London, 1992); Rudolf Dekker and Lotte van de Pol, The Tradition of Female Transvestism
in Early Modern Europe (Basingstoke, 1989); Julie Wheelwright, Amazons and Military
Maids: Women Who Cross-Dressed in the Pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness (London,
5287P IMPOSTURES MUP-PT/lb.qxd
Impostures in early modern England
On castrati, see Roger Freitas, ‘The eroticism of emasculation: confronting the baroque
body of the castrato’, Journal of Musicology, 20 (2003), pp. 196–249; id., ‘Un atto
it up, and then putting a couple of electrodes on this lad’s body, and plugging him to this machine – it was even crueller than ECT. I remember
the first time I saw it [aversion therapy for transvestism] I thought it was
barbaric. And I remember asking the Charge Nurse: ‘By administering
the shock where is the treatment?’ And of course this was regarded as an
insolent and impertinent question at the time. Because it went outside the
training and the training was set pieces of knowledge you regurgitated in
exams, and if you were able to do that you were a