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Understanding Disgust in Nursing: Abjection, Self, and the Other

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Abstract:

From the seeming chaos of war zones and emergency rooms to the ritualized order of forensic psychiatric settings and sexual health clinics, nurses often experience feelings of disgust and repulsion in their practice. For these intense feelings to occur, an abject object must exist. Cadaverous, sick, disabled bodies, troubled minds, wounds, vomit, feces, and so forth are all part of nursing work and threaten the clean and proper bodies of nurses. The unclean side of nursing is rarely accounted for in academic literature: it is silenced. Using a theoretical approach, the objective of this paper is to demonstrate how fruitful the concept of abjection is in understanding nurses' reactions of disgust and repulsion regarding particular patients or clinical situations.

Keywords: ABJECTION; CARING; DISGUST; KRISTEVA; NURSING IDENTITY; OTHER; PROFESSIONALISM

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1891/rtnp-v20i4a006

Publication date: 2006-12-01

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