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.
Winner of the Lavinia L. Dock Research Award, 2015
‘…an accomplished, lucid, important account, well contextualised and full of fascinating and often quite moving (and horrific) detail. Dickinson is to be congratulated on a very fine piece of scholarship that deserves a wide readership.' Brian Lewis, Professor of History, McGill University, Canada
‘This is an excellent, thoroughly researched, well written work and makes for a very valuable and important contribution to the fields of nursing, literature and science.' Catherine Bryce (BSc), Retired Mental Health Nurse
British Society for Literature and Science
‘This is an extremely important, well researched and well written book. "Curing Queers" reminds us that it is vital to consider the principle of 'first do no harm', to seek out the evidence base for new treatments and to question practices which can harm our patients.' Claire Hilton
British Journal of Psychiatry
‘Drawing on a vast range of scholarly literature, this book is a timely and cautionary account of how, in the recent past, homosexuality came to be seen as a psychiatric illness. The book explores with sensitivity and even-handedness the measures taken to "treat" it. Despite lack of both understanding and knowledge, doctors and nurses enthusiastically deployed untested theories to rid homosexuals of their "symptoms" and to alter their identity and sexual orientation. While some mental health personnel were genuinely attempting to relieve people from what they saw as the misery of their lives, others doubtless saw the management of homosexuality as an opportunity to promote psychiatry and advance their careers. The book is structured around two dominant themes, firstly that health services frequently come under political pressure to deliver more than they are capable of, and secondly that mental health personnel have frequently overstated their capabilities. Science, evidence and policy are necessary foundations upon which to build health services, but all of these must beware that they are not biased by prevailing mores if they are to be confident of doing no harm. What is deemed unacceptable behaviour may well be dependent on the social context in which it is displayed. This challenging and engaging book will inform and, on occasion, astonish those with an interest in mental health problems and service delivery. Tommy Dickinson has presented a salutary warning to maturing professions that they should learn from and analyse the influences that shaped the intentions and interventions of their predecessors. This book is a tour de force and should be read by everyone with an interest in mental health care and by all who recognise their democratic responsibility to ensure that those in need are assisted and neither deceived nor abused.' Peter Nolan, Professor of Mental Health Nursing (Emeritus), Staffordshire University
‘This engaging text provides a historical overview of the sociocultural and legal frameworks that informed the classification and treatment of queer people up to 1974. The book provides a beautifully balanced argument to make visible the brutal "treatments" and care practices people were subjected to in the name of biomedicine and psychiatry. The heterosexual norms that underpinned the systems of diagnosis and classification are evident in the life narratives of those who accessed treatment, some against their will following referral via court orders. The text gives voice to the courage of queer people and practitioners to resist these norms. This form of resistance that coincided with the gay liberation movement and other historic events, were instrumental in the de-medicalisation of sexuality, where life became viable for those who differ from the norm. The book succeeds in giving an account of the advance towards gender and sexual plurality.' Laetitia Zeeman, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, University of Brighton
‘This well structured book makes a valuable contribution to the historiographies of psychiatric treatments, mental health nursing and sexuality, and is, therefore, highly recommended to both students and established scholars. Not only does it reveal yet another dark episode of twentieth century psychiatry in Britain, but it raises important questions around clinical empathy and the consequences of societal attitudes and institutional structures on the very real lived experiences of residents and patients.' Dr Louise Hide, Birkbeck, University of London
History of Psychiatry
The international growth and influence of bioethics has led some to identify it as a decisive shift in the location and exercise of 'biopower'. This book provides an in-depth study of how philosophers, lawyers and other 'outsiders' came to play a major role in discussing and helping to regulate issues that used to be left to doctors and scientists. It discusses how club regulation stemmed not only from the professionalising tactics of doctors and scientists, but was compounded by the 'hands-off' approach of politicians and professionals in fields such as law, philosophy and theology. The book outlines how theologians such as Ian Ramsey argued that 'transdisciplinary groups' were needed to meet the challenges posed by secular and increasingly pluralistic societies. It also examines their links with influential figures in the early history of American bioethics. The book centres on the work of the academic lawyer Ian Kennedy, who was the most high-profile advocate of the approach he explicitly termed 'bioethics'. It shows how Mary Warnock echoed governmental calls for external oversight. Many clinicians and researchers supported her calls for a 'monitoring body' to scrutinise in vitro fertilisation and embryo research. The growth of bioethics in British universities occurred in the 1980s and 1990s with the emergence of dedicated centres for bioethics. The book details how some senior doctors and bioethicists led calls for a politically-funded national bioethics committee during the 1980s. It details how recent debates on assisted dying highlight the authority and influence of British bioethicists.
This book explores how conceptions of episcopacy (government of a church by bishops) shaped the identity of the bishops of France in the wake of the reforming Council of Trent (1545–63). It demonstrates how the episcopate, initially demoralised by the Wars of Religion, developed a powerful ideology of privilege, leadership and pastorate that enabled it to become a flourishing participant in the religious, political and social life of the ancien regime. The book analyses the attitudes of Tridentine bishops towards their office by considering the French episcopate as a recognisable caste, possessing a variety of theological and political principles that allowed it to dominate the French church.
This book provides an account of the University of Manchester's struggle to meet the government's demands for the rapid expansion of higher education in the 1950s and the 1960s. It looks at the University's ambitious building programme: the controversial attempts to reform its constitution and improve its communications amid demands for greater democracy in the workplace, the struggle to retain its old pre-eminence in a competitive world where new ‘green field’ universities were rivalling older civic institutions. The book tells the story, not just from the point of view of administrators and academics, but also from those of students and support staff (such as secretaries, technicians and engineers). It not only uses official records, but also student newspapers, political pamphlets and reminiscences collected through interviews.