The Die has been Cast? Rediscovering the Essence of Psychiatric Nursing

Document Type


Publication Date



Examination of the international literature that focuses on the historical ‘developments’ in psychiatric nursing shows a ‘back and forth’ shift in emphasis from interpersonal/therapy-based models to a concentration on pathophysiology, pharmacology and biological causation. Within this context, a number of ontological questions appear with conspicuous regularity and these are worthwhile considerations as they are tied to the very nature of psychiatric nursing. Examination of the relevant literature reflects this historical duality and indicates the existence of (at least) two versions of psychiatric nurse, each with a distinct emphasis. Given this documented duality, it is the duty of each nurse to ask themselves: What type of psychiatric nurse am I? What type do I want to be and what type would I want participating in the care of someone I love? Consequently, this article draws on bodies of literature pertaining to the extent of mental health problems, the views of mental health service users, and the different types of psychiatric nurse, in order to assist nurses in considering these questions. In the light of the clear emphasis evident within contemporary mental health policy and psychiatric nursing curricula, the article concludes that it may not be possible to reconcile the activities associated with both types of psychiatric nurse.


To acquire a personal use copy of this work, contact John Cutcliffe at john.cutcliffe@wright.edu.



Find in your library

Off-Campus WSU Users