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Human Becoming Theory

Rosemarie Rizzo Parse

This page was last updated on 15-01-2010

• The Parse theory of human becoming guides nurses In their practice to focus
on quality of life as it is described and lived (Karen & Melnechenko, 1995).
• The human becoming theory of nursing presents an alternative to both the
conventional bio-medical approach and the bio-psycho-social-spiritual (but
still normative) approach of most other theories of nursing.(ICPS)
• The human becoming theory posits quality of life from each person's own
perspective as the goal of nursing practice.(ICPS)
• Rosemarie Rizzo Parse first published the theory in 1981 as the "Man-
living-health" theory (ICPS)
• The name was officially changed to "the human becoming theory" in 1992
to remove the term "man," after the change in the dictionary definition of the
word from its former meaning of "humankind."

About the Theorist

• Dr. Parse is a graduate of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and received

her master's and doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh.
• She was a member of the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh, Dean of the
Nursing School at Duquesne University, Professor and Coordinator of the
Center for Nursing Research at Hunter College of the City University of
New York (1983-1993), and Professor and Niehoff Chair at Loyola
University Chicago (1993-2006).
• Since January 2007 she has been a Consultant and Visiting Scholar at the
New York University College of Nursing.
• Dr. Parse is founder and current Editor of Nursing Science Quarterly, and
President of Discovery International, Inc.
• She is also founder of the Institute of Humanbecoming.

About the Theory development

• The human becoming theory was developed as a human science nursing

theory in the tradition of Dilthey, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and
• The assumptions underpinning the theory were synthesized from works by
the European philosophers, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, along
with works by the pioneer American nurse theorist, Martha Rogers.
• The theory is structured around three abiding themes: meaning, rhythmicity,
and transcendence.

Summary of the Theory

• Human Becoming Theory includes Totality Paradigm
o Man is a combination of biological, psychological, sociological and
spiritual factors
• Simultaneity Paradigm
o Man is a unitary being in continuous, mutual interaction with
• Originally Man-Living-Health Theory

Parse’s Three Principles

• Meaning
o Man’s reality is given meaning through lived experiences
o Man and environment cocreate
• Rhythmicity

• Man and environment cocreate ( imaging, valuing, languaging) in

rhythmical patterns


• Refers to reaching out and beyond the limits that a person sets
• One constantly transforms

Nursing Paradigms and Parse's Theory

• Person

o Open being who is more than and different from the sum of the parts
• Environment
o Everything in the person and his experiences
o Inseparable, complimentary to and evolving with
• Health
o Open process of being and becoming. Involves synthesis of values
• Nursing
o A human science and art that uses an abstract body of knowledge to
serve people

Symbol of Human Becoming Theory

• Black and white = opposite paradox significant to ontology of human

becoming and green is hope
• Center joined =co created mutual human universe process at the ontological
level & nurse-person process
• Green and black swirls intertwining = human-universe co creation as an
ongoing process of becoming

Internet resources on Human Becoming Theory

• http://www.humanbecoming.org/site/RRParse.html
• http://www.discoveryinternationalonline.com/site/ontology.html
• http://library.stritch.edu/research/subjects/health/nursingTheorists/parse.html


1. Karen L. Melnechenko. Parse's Theory of Human Becoming: An Alternative

Guide to Nursing Practice for Pediatric Oncology Nurses. Journal of
Pediatric Oncology Nursing, Vol. 12, No. 3, 122-127 (1995)

2. ICPS-International Consortium of Parse Scholars website available at