• depression;
  • phenomenology;
  • memory loss

This paper discusses a methodological difficulty that arose when uncovering the conscious experience of being nurtured as an in-patient with depression on a psychiatric ward. It considers the problem of arriving at a phenomenological description of memory loss in a patient who had undergone electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The paper begins by describing the prevalence of depression and its significance for nurses working in in-patient settings. Examples of empirical research into memory loss in depression are used to show what researchers must set aside if they are to arrive at a phenomenological description of memory loss. The choice of a phenomenological approach to the wider study from which the methodological problem discussed here arose is then justified. The phenomena of memory is introduced to show the methodological significance of attempting to arrive at a phenomenological description of the statement made by one of the participants, a woman being treated as an in-patient for major depression. A possible description of the phenomena of memory loss based on the existential phenomenology of Sartre is offered to call into question the ability of researchers to bracket their assumptions. The significance for nurses of the wider study from which our example is taken is then described. Finally it is argued that despite the methodological difficulty described, a phenomenological perspective based on the philosophy of Husserl can point nurses in the direction of meeting the human needs of their patients.