Sunday, December 14, 2014

#1239: Jean Watson

Jean Watson is a Distinguished Professor of Nursing at Colorado and head the National League for Nursing, the board that accredits nursing schools. Hers is, in other words, a position of genuine power and influence. Watson is also a supporter of a range forms of woo, quackery, and pseudoscience, which makes her very, very scary. For instance, Watson has been a defender of Therapeutic Touch (TT), a completely unfounded type of faith healing based on murky and fluffy musings rooted in medieval vitalism (though, of course, preferably mareted under an Eastern name such as “prana” or “chi”).

Now, at least at one point TT achieved notorious popularity among nurses, partially, one might suspect, because it contributed to a sense of empowerment among nurses through a way to feel they were participating more directly in the “healing” of the patient, rather than just passively carrying out doctor’s orders. Indeed, in Colorado defenders of TT, while heavily promoting the bullshit, were also desperately trying to keep science out of it, even trying to portray it as part of a feminist cause – during the Colorado panel investigation of the practice the panel was warned by the practitioners that a negative finding on TT would be viewed as male-dominated medical imperialism against female-dominated nursing. And Watson has been encouraging the bullshit. But how crazy is she? Well, in her speech heralding Colorado’s Center for Human Caring (a hotbed for TT training), she stated that this was “part of the universe turning, ushering in one of the seasonal ancient calendar revolutions … appeasing the gods and goddesses of the universe … this leave-taking from the Age of Pisces, after 2,000 years of the Mayan calendar, takes us away from the destruction, the violence, the technological, industrialized war and power into spirit-filled cosmology … commercial and machine entropy are being scattered to the universe and being replaced by guardians, angels in fact, of esthetic mystic and spiritual unification, of human and planetary evolution.”

Yes, you’re welcome. She was promptly elected president of the National League for nursing.

Diagnosis: A quack and a crackpot, yet Watson wields quite a scary amount of influence and power. A real threat to civilization.


  1. Nah. She's just a bit goofy and actually I give her props for trying to empower women (or at least nurses) against our society's view of male MDs as god like figures. When in fact most are tyrannical egomaniacs.

    1. I'd also give her props for that. But there are plenty of ways to do that without spreading falsehoods and quackery.

    2. well having gone to the once great nursing school that first popularized crap like TT (NYU)since the 'mother' of it, Delores Kreiger was on faculty there and considered an asset, and as a feminist myself, i feel very differently about that @Septikal1. she is a disgrace to the profession and one of the single people most responsible for dragging it away from science and toward woo. and my education would have been way better without quacks like her cheapening and compromising it. and feminism at the time (this is about 40 years ago) was often used as an excuse to move things away from evidence based practice and toward alt med quackery. it doesn't help the image of nursing either, it just makes us look less professional and more open to touchy feely crapola.

  2. Walter E. Williams (Austrian school economist

  3. Alas, Watson is now credited with discovering caring "caring." She is now considered a "Major Nursing Theorist" fpr having invented the" Theory of Human Caring." This "theory" (as if science-based nursing needs its own theory) has been seeing considerable use, in promoting CAM and mediocrity in the profession.