It is a widespread notion that nursing should be characterised as altruistic actions of care. Do the experiences of patients and nurses in acute psychiatry reflect this notion of care, and does it represent an appropriate professional self-conception for nurses? These questions are at the core of the empirical studies conducted for this dissertation. The dissertation consists of six articles that address central ideals of nurse-patient interaction. The empirical data show that nursing practice is full of challenges and that the nurses do not manage to live up to what good psychiatric nursing is supposed to be like. The altruistic notion of care conceals the demanding nature of acute psychiatry and may serve to idealise and camouflage the exercise of power. The question arises whether the altruistic notion of care that prevails in the nursing profession ought to be revised. Mature care is proposed as a possible alternative. Inherent in the concept of mature care is an idea of the importance of the nurses’ balancing their own needs and interests against those of the patients. By including the caregiver’s interests, the idea of mature care provides an opportunity to incorporate perspectives of power.