Many psychiatric services employ psychiatric survivors (PS’s), i.e. staff who have previously been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness. The reason for employing PS’s is to use their personal knowledge and experience as psychiatric patients in nursing.

The purpose of this article is to further the debate regarding employment of PS’s in the psychiatric services. The underlying questions are whether personal experience of a psychiatric illness can be considered as a qualification for employment, and whether this experience benefits psychiatric patients. These questions were investigated using a hermeneutic approach, qualitative research interviews and thematic analysis.

The results show that the PS’s are placed at tipping position between the other staff and the patients. The article describes the limitations of employing PS’s, and discusses how the tipping position affects their nursing.

The conclusion is that PS’s have difficulty in strengthening the patient perspective and that the employment of PS’s can be perceived as stigmatization of professional expertise.