The Theory of Human Becoming was first introduced by Rosemarie Parse in 1981 with the goal of creating a nursing theory to enhance nursing knowledge that was grounded in the human sciences (Fawcett 2001). The theory was first introduced as Man-Living-Health, and was later changed to Human Becoming after a change in the term man, previously referring to mankind, which was changed to human kind. Although the name changed, the concept of “humans in mutual process with the universe” (Fawcett 2001) remains the same. This paper will explore the Theory of Human Becoming: its content, concepts, significance and contributions to nursing practice. Context
Rosemarie Parse obtained her BSN at Duquesne University and her MSN and doctorate from the University of Pittsburg (Institute of Human Becoming). Dr. Parse currently holds the position of professor and Niehoff chair at Loyola University in Chicago. Dr Parse is president of Discovery International Inc., founder of The Institute of Human Becoming and the founder and editor of Nursing Science Quarterly (Institute of Human Becoming). Dr. Parse has had numerous articles published, given numerous presentations and conducted many research studies. Her theory has been adopted as a guide for practice in the United States and many foreign countries. The impact of her theory is seen internationally (Institute of Human Becoming).
The Theory of Human Becoming was developed based on Dr. Parse’s lived experiences in nursing and in response to their poor fit into existing paradigms (Walker 1996). The theory is founded in the human sciences philosophy and offers an alternative to the conventional bio-medical and the bio-psycho-social spiritual approach seen in most nursing theories (Institute of Human Becoming). The theory focuses on the human-universe-health process and is based on the premise that the human being pursues and creates his own process of being with the world (Discovery International). The concepts delineated are person, environment and health. The relationships are completeness of health in human beings and the continuous relations between humans and their environment (Discovery International). The uniqueness of the theory is its perspective on paradoxes of human becoming. The theory emphasizes the relationship between human and environment with paradoxical rhythmical patterns (Discovery International). A significant contribution of the theory is providing clarity on the human experiences from a human science perspective. The outcomes of the theory are illuminating meaning, synchronizing rhythms and mobilizing transcendence (Discovery International).
The three metaparadigms found in the theory are the human being, the environment and health (Walker 1996). The human being is defined as “an open, unitary being coexistent with the environment, freely participating in the experience of health and bearing responsibility for choices” (Walker 1996). Parse’s theory believes that the human being is in a state of becoming and humans are in continuous change (Edwards 2000). The second metaparadigm, the environment, is viewed as “a dynamic context which is distinct yet inseparable from man” (Walker 1996). The environment is “recognizable by its own ‘pattern and organization’ and uniquely contributing to the negentropic unfolding known as health (Walker 1996). Health, the final metaparadigm, is “a process of becoming, the accumulation of man’s life experiences, a nonlinear entity that cannot be interrupted or qualified by terms such as good, bad, more or less” (Walker 1996). Therefore, health is simply participating in life (Edwards 2000).
Developed as a human science nursing theory, the Theory of Human Becoming was influenced by and synthesized from the works of several European philosophers and the works of American theorist Martha Rogers (Institute of Human Becoming). One that has strongly influenced the human becoming theory is Merleau-Ponty. Parse like Merleau-Ponty, focused her theory around the individual’s lived experiences (Melnechencko 2003). Parse has also relied on Merleau-Ponty’s concepts of co-constitution and co-existence (Melnechencko 2003). Parse’s theory is based strongly around the true presence of the nurse and the patient sharing his true thoughts and feelings of lived experiences (Melnechencko 2003). Parse identifies two main sources for the philosophical foundation of the Theory of Human Becoming. The first source is Martha Rogers’ Science of Unitary Human Beings (Edwards 2000). She incorporated the concepts of the unity and human beings in continuous and simultaneous interaction with their environment (Edwards 2000). Dr. Parse identifies the second source as existential-phenomenological tenets and concepts (Edwards 2000). “Under tenets, we find that humans can think (have intentionality), and have subjectivity” (Edwards 2000). From concepts, we encounter the idea of coconstitution, which addresses the idea that our interpretation determines the nature of a given situation (Edwards 2000). From the two philosophical foundations, Parse produced nine assumptions about the human and becoming (Institute of Human Becoming). 1.The human is coexisting while coconstituting rhythmical patterns with the universe. 2.The human is open, freely choosing meaning in situation, bearing responsibility for decisions. 3.The human is unitary, continuously coconstituting patterns of relating. 4.The human is transcending multidimensionally with the possibles. 5.Becoming is unitary human-living-health.
6.Becoming sis a rhythmically coconstituting human-universe process. 7.Becoming is the human’s patterns of relating value priorities. 8.Becoming is an intersubjective process of transcending with the possibles. 9.Becoming is unitary humans emerging
The explicit world view of Parse’s theory of Human Becoming provides solid ground for the construction of theory (Walker 1996). The conceptual mode of the Theory of Human Becoming is Rogers’ Science of Unitary Human Beings (Fawcett 2005). Concepts adopted by Parse from Rogers are the “concepts of energy field, openness, pattern, and pandimensionality” (Fawcett 2005). Additionally, she adopted her homeodynamic principles of helicy, integrity and resonancy (Fawcett 2005). Concepts
The main concept of Parse’s theory is human becoming. Human becoming is equivalent to leading a human life (Edwards 2000). Parse also identified three other major concepts: meaning, rhythmicity and transcendence. Concept 1: “Structuring meaning multidimensionally is cocreating reality through the language of valuing and imaging” (Institute of Human Becoming). This concept means that people create personal meaning out of their personal lived experiences. Humans must wrestle with ultimate meaning and finding life’s purpose (Walker 1996). The individual chooses what is significant to them based on their interpretation (Edwards 2000). Humans must build personal meaning out of their world experiences, this meaning being representative of cherished beliefs, which are “shaped by reflective and intuitive knowing, and expressed as imagined possibilities” (Walker 1996). Concept 2: “Cocreating rhythmicity patterns of relating is living the paradoxical unity of revealing-concealing and enabling-limiting while connecting-separating” (Fawcett 2001). This concept “means that the unity of life encompasses apparent opposites in rhythmic patterns of relating…and that in living moment-to-moment, one shows and does not show self as opportunities and limitations emerge in moving with and apart from others” (Institute of Human Becoming). In relations experienced in human lives, humans exhibit a rhythmical pattern. The three paradoxes referred to in this concept are exhibited in the relations. In the paradox revealing-concealing, Parse believes that when we reveal something in ourselves to others, we also conceal other things (Edwards 2000). The second paradox enabling-limiting suggests that when we choose one option, we close off others (Edwards 2000). The last paradox, connecting-separating, involves beings with or apart from others all at the same time (Edwards 2000). Meaning that we may be with one person, but our mind is in another place (Walker 1996). Concept 3: Rhythmic patterns are exhibited while leading a human life and in relations with others. “Contranscending with the possibles is powering unique ways of originating in the process of transforming” (Fawcett 2001). “Transcendence occurs as several modes of experience are lived simultaneously” (Walker 1996). This concept means “that moving beyond the now moment is forging a unique personal path for oneself in the midst of ambiguity and continuous change” (Institute of Human Becoming). The human being considers possible courses of action and then chooses one, in making the choice, a step towards becoming is taken (Walker 1996). Transforming refers to changing and in life; humans are continuously changing and transforming themselves (Walker 1996).
The three concepts are interwoven. Parse identified five relational propositions (Fawcett 2005). 1.Human becoming is structuring meaning multidimensionally in cocreating paradoxical rhythmical patterns of relating while contranscending with the possibilities. 2.Human becoming is the day-to-day creating of reality through the language of valuing and imaging as the paradoxical rhythmical patterns of revealing-concealing, enabling-limiting, and connecting-separating are powering ways of originating transforming. 3.Powering emerges with the revealing-concealing of imaging. 4.Originating emerges with the enabling-limiting of valuing. 5.Transforming emerges with the languaging of connecting-separating. The anchoring motifs, human life and health, are consistent from the conceptual origins to the theory content (Walker 1996). “The vocabulary of the Theory of Human Becoming is congruent with the philosophical and conceptual foundations of the theory” (Fawcett 2005). Parse’s theoretical structures developmentally define concepts and constructs, and “accumulated nuances add layers of meaning to the truths found in her theory” (Walker 1996). On the other hand, a criticism of Parse’s theory is difficulty in understanding the terminology. Terminology may not be easily understood by the novice (Walker 1996). Significance of Theory
Dr. Parse believes that her theory gives the discipline of nursing a broader perspective and another way to view the human-universe-health process (Fawcett 2000). The theory identifies the goal of nursing as: quality of life as described by the person (Institute of Human Becoming). The theory identifies the role of nurses in society as one of “guiding individuals and families to envision possibilities in changing health through acknowledging the significance of others’ choices” (Hodges et al., 2005). In education, Parse identifies the role of the nurse educator as of “guiding nursing students in developing possibilities for achieving professional health with innovation and creativity” (Hodges et al., 2005).
The nurse accomplishes these goals through what Dr. Parse identifies as presence. Presence is defined as a way of being with people as they elaborate on the meaning of lived experiences (Melnechencko 2003). This opens up an approach for nurses to be open to the mystery of how others live through their situation and how they are able to care for themselves (Melnechencko 2003). The nurse is the expert at being with others (Fawcett 2001). The goal is not to understand, but rather to allow the person to transform their thought, feelings, hopes and dreams into a meaningful experience (Melnechencko 2003).
The Theory of Human Becoming identifies nursing’s responsibility to the society (Walker 1996). The theory’s “view of health-as-becoming is both visionary and applicable to the evolutionary…changes presently occurring within the healthcare system” (Walker 1996). The Theory of Human Becoming has been adopted as a guide for practice in healthcare settings in several countries in addition to the United States (Institute of Human Becoming). Parsimony and Testability
The assumptions and explanations in the formation of the human-living-health are clearly and concisely presented (Walker 1996). Descriptions are supported by references to pertinent literature and the theory demonstrates interrelationships between concepts (Walker 1996). Parse’s theory has been tested repeatedly and continues to be tested by nurses practicing under the human becoming theory. The evidence of testing is also evident through many research studies.
There are two types of research within the human becoming theory: basic and applied. Basic research focuses on lived experiences and its purpose is to advance the science of human becoming (Discovery International). Basic research is then divided into two types: the Parse method and the Human Becoming Hermeneutic method (Discovery International). While both methods focus on lived experience, the difference is how the data is obtained. The Parse method relies on descriptions from participants and the Hermeneutic method relies on data obtained in descriptions from published texts and art forms (Discovery International). Both types help contribute to the knowledge and understanding of human lived experiences (Discovery International).
Applied research evaluates the practiced theory through the Qualitative Descriptive Preproject-Process-Postproject method (Discovery International). Applied research evaluates changing patterns that emerge with the application of the human becoming theory. The research contributes knowledge about what occurs when human becoming is lived (Discovery International). Conclusion
Dr. Parse has made significant contributions to nursing through hew creation and continues work on her theory of human becoming. The contribution is seen in many areas. In research, the theory structure is modifiable to testing and extension using the heuristic research method. The theory has been applied to education at both the baccalaureate and masters level. The theory is applicable to nursing practice and has been adopted as a guide for practice in the United States as well as several foreign countries. Parse’s Theory of Human Becoming is seen as both visionary and evolutionary, which is applicable to the ever changing health care system. Utilization of the theory enhances a nurse’s awareness of her patient and enables the nurse to provide the best possible care.
Discovery International. (n.d.). The human becoming theory. Retrieved November 9, 2006, from http://www.discoverinternationalonline.com Edwards, SD. (2000). Critical review of R.R. Parse’s the human becoming school of thought. A perspective for nurses and other health professional. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 31(1): 190-196. Fawcett, J. (2001). The nurse theorists: 21st-century updates- Rosemarie Rizzo Parse. Nursing Science Quarterly. 14(2): 126-131. Fawcett, J. (2005). Contemporary nursing knowledge: Analysis and evaluation of nursing models and theories (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Hodges, H.F., Keeley, A.C. & Grier, E.C. (2005). Professional resilience, practice longevity, and Parse’s theory for baccalaureate education. Journal of Nursing Education. 44(12): 548-554. Institute of Human Becoming. (n.d.). Rosemarie Rizzo Parse. Retrieved November 9, 2006, from http://www.humanbecoming.org Melnechencko, K.L. (2003). To make a difference: nursing presence. Nursing Forum. 38(2): 18-24. Parse, R.R. (2005). The human becoming modes of inquiry: emerging sciencing. Research Issues. 18(4): 297-300. Walker, C.A. (1996). Coalescing the theories of two nurse visionaries: Parse and Watson. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 24: 988-996.