Florence Nightingale Effect

or Nightingale Syndrome

What does the Florence Nightingale Effect mean?


The Florence Nightingale Effect explains why caregivers sometimes develop romantic and/or sexual feelings for their patients. Also known as Nightingale Syndrome, it is sometimes used to explain why caregivers show empathy and compassion for patients, even if there aren't any romantic or sexual overtones.

Examples of Florence Nightingale Effect


Examples of Florence Nightingale Effect
As of tonight she has stitched him up twice so why not get married? The Florence Nightingale effect???
@WilliamShatner, July, 2016
I watched The Hobbit trilogy over the last 3 nights, and (spoiler) I am at the part when Kili and Tauriel are in love. I feel like the dwarves weren't held captive long enough for this to happen. Isn't this over a matter of days? Is this the Florence Nightingale effect?
@rawrsnacks, May, 2018
I have to apologize to anyone who takes care of me. That whole Florence Nightingale effect thing must be tough. I'm quite a catch. 😏
@BiddleRidley, February, 2017

Where does Florence Nightingale Effect come from?

The Florence Nightingale Effect is named for Florence Nightingale, an English nurse who gained fame during the Crimean War for her efforts to train nurses and improve sanitary conditions in healthcare settings. Although there is no record of the real Nightingale ever falling in love while on the job, the “syndrome” borrows her name because of her compassion and tenderness for her patients.

Although the exact origins of the phrase are unknown, many credit the movie Back to the Future, which was released in 1985. In the film, Lorraine Baines (played by Lea Thompson) develops a crush on a strange boy who she cares for after he falls from a tree in front of her house. The boy turns out to be George McFly, who Lorraine later marries. Dr. Emmett Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd) tells Lorraine and George’s son, Marty McFly, that his mom’s crush on the boy is the Florence Nightingale Effect at work.

The phrase has since popped up in a variety of pop culture arenas and medical settings.

The Florence Nightingale Effect is often misinterpreted, with people assuming it means that a patient falls in love with their caregiver. Depending on the caregiver in question, this phenomena can be called transference, although typically this word is only used when a patient develops feelings for a mental-health professional.

Who uses Florence Nightingale Effect?

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