Tony McSherry

Research project: I am interested in the therapeutic effects of psychiatric/mental health nursing and how this is promoted in nurse education
Supervisors: Professor Del Loewenthal; Dr Julia Cayne
I work as a mental health nurse and UKCP registered psychotherapist and psychotherapeutic counsellor. I am interested in a broad range of ideas and theory about what it is to be human, from the pre-Socratics to Freud, Lacan and Levinas, including Franciscan spirituality. Heidegger’s statement that wonder is the start of philosophy I would also apply to being. Theory tends to entangle us in ideas which can then become violent, yet we are always caught up in defining ourselves through ideas in which we have a stake. It is important then to try at least to understand how one is caught up.

My research interest is in how psychiatric/mental health nursing provides the main means of care for those with ‘problems of living’ who come within the remit of the NHS, yet the therapeutic effects of such involvement are poorly understood, although appreciated by service users, and largely ignored by bodies such as NICE. The work of this kind of nursing is not really taken seriously by NICE – and one can always ponder whether this is a blessing in disguise - partly because of the absence of funding for nurse-led research that NICE would consider as valid; yet there are major flaws in applying categories of research methodology derived from the physical sciences, as NICE do, to the human sciences. To treat human being as an object, like a thing, rather than an interconnected relatedness with others and the world is a profound and simple mistake. This is the tragic flaw of much research in this field, and a trap that mental health nursing research has largely avoided. I see this psychiatric/mental health nursing then as providing a potential to rediscover wonder at being, which is the key to hope and recovery.