Anita G. Hufft, PhD, RN, Dean of the College of Nursing at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA talks about her research into manipulation stressors for correctional nurses. Dr. Hufft is a nurse researcher and consultant in forensic psychiatric nursing as well as a forensic nurse educator. She became interested in this concept while consulting on forensic nursing at several sites in the Georgia Prison System.
Dr. Hufft defines manipulation as deliberately influencing or controlling the behavior of others to one’s own advantage by using charm, persuasion, seduction, deceit, guilt induction or coercion. It is the conscious and un-altrustic use of destructive or self-oriented relationships or behaviors to establish power, achieve goals, or create chaos. Although correctional nurses report manipulative behaviors from fellow staff members and custody staff, over 80% of reported manipulative behaviors are generated by the patient population.
Manipulation tactics can include flattery, praise, empathy, sympathy, helplessness and sensitivity. It is usually the means to an end. This end can be for entertainment or to relieve boredom on the part of patients with anti-social behavior but can also lead to goals such as obtaining contraband, special favors or even escape from confinement. Malingering is a distinct form of manipulation seen by correctional nurses. Dr. Hufft suggests that nursing skills such as assessment and objective documentation can thwart malingering efforts over time.
Because manipulation is so prevalent in the correctional nursing specialty, some nursing characteristics are helpful in this practice setting. In particular, social maturity is necessary in order to have the ego strength to detect and deflect manipulation efforts in a nurse-patient relationship. In addition, a nurse’s work motivation that focuses on the intrinsic value of a job well done rather than extrinsic values of being appreciated or socially valued protects from manipulation. Finally, Hufft suggests that mindfulness of the professional relationship and professional boundaries is important.
Dr. Hufft encourages listeners to contact her (firstname.lastname@example.org ) to participate in her ongoing research. She is active in the International Association of Forensic Nurses and extends an invitation to seek her out at the 20th Annual Scientific Assembly in October.