1. Guest, the 'News in Brief' post for w/c 11th Feb is here.
    Dismiss Notice

Florence Nightingale - nursing icon and 'malingerer'

Discussion in 'Health News and Research unrelated to ME/CFS' started by Sly Saint, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    "It is a sad irony that Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the founder of modern nursing, who made such important contributions to public health through her advocacy of sanitation, statistics, and common sense, should also be remembered as history's most famous invalid and possibly as its most successful malingerer."

    http://www.bmj.com/content/311/7021/1697.full behind a paywall

    Brucellosis and Psychology: Nightingale’s “depression.”
    "Until the mid-1900s it was common to attribute Nightingale’s collapse in 1857 and subsequent indisposition to overwork, with a sexist implication that women should not try to work hard. Then in 1974 Pickering, a physician, concluded that Nightingale’s illness was largely psychosomatic."

    "The most negative assessment of Nightingale was that of Smith, a sociologist, in 1982. He wrote that Nightingale faked her symptoms, went for ‘surreptitious’ walks in the park when she was supposed to be bedridden, etc. Smith’s assessment of her physical symptoms was that they were too sporadic and varied to fit any organic disease, hence they must be faked."

    "The next diagnosis comes from Dr. David Young, a former principal scientist at the Wellcome Foundation, who evidently is an admirer of Miss Nightingale and wrote his article in the British Medical Journal in 1995 [see above] as a reaction against Smith’s negative view. Young was the first to propose an organic illness as the cause of Nightingale’s invalidism. He showed that her varied and intermittent physical symptoms resembled a chronic form of brucellosis infection, so that Smith was therefore wrong to conclude that faking was the only explanation."

    "......pattern of her symptoms. As you can see, she was unable to walk for a period of six years in the 1860s, and the other physical symptoms are more sporadic over a period of fifteen years. In the Crimea in 1855 she had a serious attack of fever, with brief delusions, which could have been the first onset of the infection."

    "Young only needed to show that neurosis or faking are not the only explanations for her physical symptoms. If he succeeded in showing that there was an organic illness that could have caused her sporadic and varied symptoms, it wouldn’t prove that she had it, and it
    wouldn’t disprove Smith’s theory of faking or Pickering’s psychosomatic theory, but it would make it clear that they were pure speculation."

    So it’s pretty clear that she did have an attack of brucellosis. But an attack of brucellosis only rarely leads to an extended period of chronic symptoms, so it’s still only a speculative diagnosis of her later symptoms."
    "The narrative purpose of “depression”

    What narrative purpose is served by speculation that she suffered from a 25-year-long chronic depression caused by brucellosis?"


    more info on brucellosis of the nervous system
  2. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:
    Now, to be fair, they had no problem with women overworking themselves cleaning houses for the gentry or in mills.

    Interesting that women are only susceptible when doing a job that a man might like to do or that might confer some status.
    Hutan, adambeyoncelowe, diwa and 13 others like this.
  3. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Likes Received:

Share This Page