Sadomasochism, or S&M, has its place in nursing as it does within any profession. I’m not talking about physical, sexual S&M. I mean emotional S&M.
Sadist nurses are those that get pleasure – whether they know it or not – from harming others. You could call these nurses the bullies within our profession. They like to see colleagues squirm under pressure, and if you want to leave the profession then, hey, it’s no sweat off their backs. They pile the work onto subordinate nurses, waiting for the tipping point. “Self-care? You don’t need that!”
Then there are the masochist nurses who inflict emotional harm upon themselves. They are always the victims, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. They stay in toxic work environments instead of running in the opposite direction. They fool themselves into thinking there is nothing better within the profession. Either that, or they bury themselves under piles of work, taking on more and more projects until they blow up and people are left wondering what happened. “Self-care? I don’t need it!”
Emotional sadomasochism is prevalent within nursing. Maybe you see yourself above. Maybe you see others. It’s a hard cycle to break; realization is the first step toward any change.