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By: Rosemarie Rizzo Parse

Rosemarie Parse is currently a professor and Niehoff Chair at the Marcela Niehoff School of Nursing, Loyola University of Chicago. She is a founder and editor of Nursing Science Quarterly, president if Discovery International Incorporated and founder of the Institute of Human Becoming. Parse multiple research projects and interests are focused on humanly lived experiences of health. She has developed basic and applied science research methodologies congruent with the ontology of human becoming.

Theoretical Sources
The human becoming school of thought is consistent with Martha E. Rogers principles and postulates about human becoming and it is consistent with major tenets and concepts from existential-phenomenological thought but it is a new product, a different conceptual system. She has dialogues with van Kaam and Giorgi in Duquesne University that stimulated and focused her thinking on the lived experiences of human beings and their freedom and participation in life.

By synthesizing the science of unitary human being by Martha Rogers and the fundamental tenets from existential-phenomenological thought, Parse secured nursings history as a human science. Parse contends that humans can not be reduced to constituent systems or parts and still be understood. Persons are living beings who are more than and different from any schemata that divides them. Parse challenges the traditional, medical view of nursing and distinguishes the discipline of nursing as a unique, basic science. Parse supports the notion that nurses require a unique knowledge base that informs their practice and research and this this knowledge is essential for nurses to fulfill their commitment to humankind

Parse was specially influence by Rogers postulates and principles with her notions about persons as open beings who relate at multiple realms with the universe and who are irreducible, ever changing, and recognized by patterns. And from existential-phenomenological thought, Parse drew on the tenets of intentionality and human subjectivity and the corresponding concepts of coconstitution, coexistence and situated freedom. Parse uses the prefix co on many of her words to denote the participative nature of persons. Humans can never be separated from their relationships with the universe

INTENTIONALITY means that the human is open, knows and is present with the world. To be human then, is to be intentional and to be involved with the world through a fundamental nature of knowing, being present and open. It is about purpose and how persons choose direction and ways of acting toward projects and people. HUMAN SUBJECTIVITY the basic tenet, posits that human by nature is no thing but, rather, a unity of being non-being-living, what is and what is not-yet all at once. In subjectivity, the human is present with the world in a dialectical relationship, giving meaning to the projects that emerge in the process of becoming.

Every person although inseparable from others, crafts a unique relationship with the universe. The personal relationship is persons becoming and becoming is complex, mulitlayered, and full explicitimplicit meanings. COCONSTITUTION - refers to the idea that the meaning emerging in any situation is related to the particular constituents of that situation. It links to the ways people create different meanings from the same situation. People change and are changed through their personal interpretations of life situations.

COEXISTENCE the human is not alone in any dimension of becoming. Human, an emerging being, is with the world with others-predecessors, contemporaries and successors; indeed, even the act of coming into the world is through others. Without others, one would not know that one is a being. -Persons think about themselves in relation to how they are with others and how they might be with their plans and dreams. -Coexistence links with the notion of mutual process and unity of lived experiences.

SITUATED FREEDOM - means that reflectively and prereflectively one participates in choosing the situations in which one finds oneself as well as ones attitude toward the situations. Humans are always choosing. Persons decide what is important in their lives. Personal integrity is intimately linked to the notion of situated freedom.


Research guided by the human becoming theory is meant to enhance the theoretical foundation or the description contained in the principles and concepts of human becoming theory. Research is not used to test Parses theory. Nurses do not set out to test the questions as to whether or not people have unique meanings or situated freedom, if they are unitary beings, if persons relate with others, and the universe in paradoxical patterns, or if people choose their hopes and dreams.

Parse stated the following when discussing the issue of testing the human becoming theory: the human becoming theory does not lend itself to testing, since it is not a predictive theory and it is not based on a cause-effect view of the humanuniverse process. The purpose of the research is not to verify the theory or test it but, rather, the focus is on uncovering the essences of lived phenomena to gain further understanding of universal human experiences. This understanding evolves from connecting the descriptions given by people to the theory, thus making more explicit the essences of being human.

Research guided by the human becoming theory explores universal lived experiences with people as they live them in day-to-day life. Parse contends that there are universal human experiences, such as hope, joy, sorrow, grief, anticipation, fear, confidence and contemplation. This means that research guided by the human becoming theory explores lived experiences as people are living them in the moment. People live in the moment and what is remembered and what is hoped for are always viewed within the reality of the now. For instance , a researcher might invite a participant to talk about his or her experience of grieving. The researcher would not ask the participant to speak about the grieving while in the hospital, for example. The researcher guided by this theory knows that persons reality encompasses the what was, is and will be as it is appearing in the moment.


There are three principles which constitute the human becoming theory. Each principle contains three concepts that require thoughtful exploration to understand the depth of human becoming theory. The first principle is: 1. Structuring meaning multidimensionally is cocreating reality through the languaging of valuing and imaging. -the first principles proposes that persons choose the meaning of their realities and this choosing happens at realms not always known explicitly. Sometimes questions are unanswerable because people may not know why they think or feel one way or another.

The first principle suggests that the way people see the world, their imaging of it, is their reality and they create this reality with others and they show or language their reality in the ways they speak and remain silent and in the ways they move and stay still. 3 concepts of the first principle: a. Imaging is an individuals view of reality. Imaging is a personal interpretation of meaning, possibility and consequence. For Parse, people are inherently curious and seek to find answers and figures things out. The answers to questions emerge as persons explore meaning in light of reality and their view of things. Nurses cannot completely know anothers imaging but they can explore, respect and bear witness as people struggle with the process.

b. Valuing this concept is the confirming-not confirming of cherished beliefs in light of personal worldview. Sometimes people may think about anticipated choices, and once choices arrives, they change their thinking and require a shifting of value priorities and direction in life. Values reflect what is important in life to a person or a family. For Parse, living value priorities is how an individual expresses health and human becoming. Nurses learn about persons perspectives by asking them what is most important. c. Languaging - relates to how human beings symbolize and express their imaged realities and their value priorities. It is visible in the way people speak and remain silent. Nurses can witness some of the languaging but they cannot know the meaning of the languaging. To understand, nurses must ask the meaning of their languaging. Family members or close friends often share similar patterns such as moving, speaking and being quiet.

2. Cocreating rhytmical patterns of relating is living the paradoxical unity of revealing-concealing and enabling-limiting while connecting-separating. -this principle means that human beings create patterns in dayto-day life and these patterns tell about personal meanings and values. All patterns involve engagements and disengagements with people, ideas and preferences. 3 concepts of principle number two: a. Revealing-concealing is disclosing-not-disclosing all at once. Parse identifies the notion of mystery to understand this paradoxical concept. It is mysterious how people choose to give and withhold messages about who they are and what they think and know. Mystery is also relevant because there is always more for people to know about themselves. People also revealconceal differently in different situations and with different people. The patterns of revealing-concealing are cocreated and intimately linked to the mutual process of the moment and to the intentions of those persons present.

b. Enabling-Limiting represents the freedom and opportunities that surface with the restrictions and obstacles of everyday living. It is not possible to know all the consequences of any given choice, therefore people make choices amid the reality of ambiguity. Every choice is pregnant with the possibility in both opportunity and restriction. This concept is about choosing from the possibilities and living with the consequences of those choices. c. Connecting-Separating this concepts relates to the ways persons create patterns of connecting and separating with people and projects. It is about the paradox communionaloneness and the ways people separate from some to join others. It also explains the way two people can be very close yet maintain separateness between the two. Sometimes there is connecting when people are separating because persons can dwell with an absent presence with great intimacy, especially when grieving another. Nurses learn about persons patterns of connecting-separating by asking about their important relationship and projects.

3. Contranscending with the possibles is powering unique ways of originating in the process of transforming. -this means that persons are always engaging with and choosing from infinite possibilities. The choices reflect the persons ways of moving and changing in the process of becoming. 3 concepts of third principle: a. Powering a concept that conveys meaning about struggle and life and the will to go on despite hardship and threat. Parse stated that powering is the pushing-resisting process of affirming-not affirming being in light of non-being. People constantly engage being and nonbeing. Nonbeing is about loss and the risk of death and rejection. Powering is the pushing to act and live with purpose amid possibilities for affirming and holding what is cherished, while simultaneously living with loss and threat of nonbeing. There is always resistance with the pushing force because persons live with others who are also

b. Originating is a concept about human uniqueness and holds two paradoxes: (1) conforming- not conforming and (2) certainty-uncertainty. People strive to be like others and yet also strive to be unique. For some, there is greater danger in being too much like others; some may say the greater danger is in being different. Each person defines and lives originating in light of their worldview and values. Nurses witness originating with persons who are in the process of choosing how they are going to be with their changing health patterns. c. Transforming is about change and the shifting views that people have about their lives. People are always struggling to integrate the unfamiliar with the familiar in the living of everydayness. It is the ongoing change characteristics of mutual process and human ingenuity as people find ways to change in the direction of their cherished hopes and dreams. Nurses, in the way they are present with others, help or hinder persons efforts to clarify their hopes, dreams and desired directions.

Reference: Marriner-Tomey, A & Alligood, M.R. (2005) Nursing Theorist and Their Work. 6th Edition. St. Louis: Mosby, Inc.