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Parse’s Human Becoming Theory


The human becoming theory developed by Rosemarie Parse guides nurses to put emphasis on the quality of life as told and lived by the participants. It is an alternative to bio-medical and totality approaches of nursing. The theory rates a participant’s quality of life based on their own perspectives and goals. The theory is based around three themes of meaning, rhythmicity, and co-transcendence. A person’s reality is given meaning by lived experiences.

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Actualizing Parse’s Theory of Human Becoming

The theory’s four assumptions specify a person as an open being coexisting and in a simultaneous manner with the universe. People live in a co-creating pattern of relating with others and at multi-dimensional realms of the universe all at once (Lins et al., 2017). The nurse is supposed to understand that people choose ways of becoming to give meaning to situations and apply this knowledge in Ben’s case. The nurse observes Ben and Ann in a mutual process with the universe and chooses ways of becoming to give meaning to their loss of Jessie. Parse explores a person’s participative experience within the universe. This is why Ben connects his daughter Jessie to a shooting star, an experience that comforts both Ben and his wife. The nurse actualizes the theory by remaining a passive participant in Ben’s dialogical process. She gives the both Ben and Ann a chance to live and experience through the moment without interrupting them. As she keeps them company, she realizes that something significant is happening to the couple.

Parse indicates that people construct a personal significance to an event by choosing options from various realms of the universe. The nurse allows Ben to construct a personal significance using the universe of the events in his life without interrupting. Ben observes a shooting star and attaches meaning to it. He concludes that the shooting star must be his late daughter, who lost her life while giving birth. Ben co-creates the human-universe process rhythmically. Co-transcending involves moving beyond with intended dreams and hopes to resist and create new ways of viewing the familiar

Characteristics, Strengths, and Weaknesses of the Theory

The theory’s three notable human characteristics are meaning, rhythmicity and co-transcendence. Human beings freely choose personal meaning to attach to situations in the inter-subjective process of reality (Parse, 2018). Humans give meaning through the experiences they live through. Rhythmicity articulates co-creating on several instances through shared practice with the universe. Co-transcendence dictates that humans invent new ways from the universe to cope with what was and imagine what will be. The human becoming theory provides a transformative approach to deal with the various stages of nursing (Parse, 2018). The four nursing paradigms include human, environment, health, and nursing (Lins et al., 2017). The theory guides the nurse to put emphasis on the quality of life as told by the participants.

According to the theory, a nurse should respect each person’s view of quality and desist from changing their view to be consistent with theirs. The nurse’s knowledge of the human becoming theory thus forms the base for their thinking regarding the person under care. The theory’s methodology involves three processes; illuminating meaning, synchronizing rhythms, and mobilizing transcendence. In the first process, the nurse invites or observes the person or family to relate the meaning of the situation. The nurse can thus get the meaning (in the first step) as the individual or the family share thoughts and feelings with themselves. An example is the scenario witnessed between Ben, his wife, and the present nurse. Articulation of the participants’ thoughts may lead to an illuminating moment for the nurse. Synchronizing rhythms occur when the nurse stays in the true presence of the individual or family as they describe their experiences.

In the case study’s scenario, the nurse is passive as Ben, and his wife goes through a moment. While observing this family, the nurse is, in this case, synchronizing rhythms. She should not try to direct or interrupt the proceedings set by the person or the family. The appropriate thing is to move with the flow of the setting’s rhythm as the participants discuss the struggles of the situation. The last process in the human becoming theory is mobilizing transcendence. It happens when the family moves beyond the moment and delves in dreams and hopes (Parse, 2018). The family invents translations to the situation and incarnates new meaning.

The theory’s strengths include its capacity to differentiate nursing from other practices and fields. The human becoming approach is a guide useful in administration, education, and care. It is a source of research methodologies and frameworks to direct review of other models. Critiques, however, consider the theory a closed circle. The results of this theory are extremely difficult to quantify. It is difficult to compare outcomes to other research studies because of the absence of standardized questions or a control group. The theory fails to employ the nursing process and does not recognize that all patients engage in a unique lived experience. Lastly, the theory cannot be applied to acute and emergent environments.

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Challenges Facing the Human Becoming Approach in Nursing

There are various challenges raised by transforming the Purse theory into practice. The challenges are not unique to a particular health system but stem from situations present in the status quo. These challenges are mainly related to:

  • Sustaining the commitment to learn and practice new values suggested by the theory.
  • Creating an atmosphere where individual or family intense experiences can be openly and gently shared.
  • Promoting the allocation of resources to the human becoming project in light of other demands (Parse, 2018).

Nurses may find it difficult to be true to the dialogical process during engagements with participants. They should also dwell on the dialogues and adhere to the participants’ meaning. Some nurses may not have the ability to consider the conversation to draw meaning from them carefully. Getting the participants’ meaning requires deep immersion in the context and conversation. To overcome these challenges, nurses should be ready to commit themselves to learn and live the Parse theory. Training and education is critical to demonstrate how to put the theory into practice.

Parse’s Understanding of Transcendence

The human becoming theory understanding of transcendence can assist the nurse to galvanize Ben’s belief that the shooting stars represent his daughter and grandson. The nurse is not supposed to offer professional advice or opinion but rather be with Ben and his wife as they live the moment. The nurse should rely on the human becoming theory belief that each person knows their way, which is different from the ways of others. This will help them listen to and help Ben as he deals with the loss of her daughter and grandson. The nurse realizes that Ben has his own fingerprint for dealing with personal issues. That fingerprint should be allowed to take its course. The nurse acts not as a guide but as a present inspiring figure that helps Ben illuminate the meaning. The nurse’s presence synchronizes the rhythms, illuminates the meaning, and helps in mobilizing co-transcendence.

Additional Theory

Another paradigm that can be employed in Ben’s case is the totality paradigm. The approach views the relationship between humans and the universe as cause-effect in nature. It considers the spirit, mind, and the body as separate units instead of the Parse approach that considers these entities as simultaneous (Younas, 2019). The totality paradigm emphasizes an individual’s physiological, spiritual, psychological, and social aspects. Humans interact linearly with the universe.

While the totality paradigm treats the relationship between the human and the universe as linear, the Parse theory considers both entities as simultaneous. The plan of care within the totality paradigm involves promoting adaptation within the participants’ psychological, role function, self-concept, and interdependence. In this case, Ben tries to rationalize the situation by manipulating the environment. The nurse is supposed to help the participant adapt to the situation, categorize participants’ stimuli and behavior, develop diagnoses, intervene, and finally evaluate the patient’s condition. In the human becoming scenario, the nurse is supposed to help the participants synchronize the rhythms, illuminate meaning, and mobilize co-transcendence. The nurse identifies the participants, takes them through a dialogical engagement, and extracts synthesis (Parse, 2018). In the human becoming context, the dialogical engagement should not be an interview but a true presence experience. The nurse pays full attention to the participants without interrupting the flow of information and emotions in order to extract maximum synthesis.


The overall aim of Parse’s theory is to help improve the participants’ quality of care and the nursing practice. The nurse’s main role through this process is to illuminate meaning, synchronize rhythms, and mobilize transcendence. For the theory to work, the administration should support the nurses by allocating adequate time and resources. Experts in the theory should conduct regular consultation with practicing nurses to check progress and enhance improvements.


Lins, G., Nobrega, M. & Kamada, I. (2017). Theory of human becoming for the terminological classification of occupational health nursing. Text & Context Nursing. Pp 1-11. Web.

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Parse, R. (2018). The human-becoming concept inventing model: A reprise and more. Nursing science quarterly, 31(2), pp 157-159. Web.

Younas, A. (2019). Characteristics of various nursing paradigms and nursing theories within the totality and simultaneity paradigms. RN Journals. Web.

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