Medical devices and attachment: holistic healing in the age of invasive technology

Issues Ment Health Nurs. 1996 May-Jun;17(3):233-43. doi: 10.3109/01612849609049917.


The environment is filled with wonderful examples of medical technology that provide emergency life support, improve well-being, and offer the possibility of a longer and more productive life. But these devices are no longer only a part of the external environment. As technology advances, more devices are becoming a part of the internal environment (i.e., our bodies) as well. For some people an implanted mechanical device, such as a cardiac pacemaker or a cardioverter defibrillator, is readily accepted; for others it may be seen as an encroachment. It may be a symbol of loss and debilitation or of independence and resilience. What makes the difference? How can nurses facilitate a healthy adjustment and healing in an era permeated with technology? A discussion of the symbolism, related theory, and nursing implications is provided.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Body Image
  • Heart-Assist Devices*
  • Holistic Nursing*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Object Attachment
  • Pacemaker, Artificial / psychology*
  • Symbolism