Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

Views of Humanity and Nursing Practice: An Analysis of Nursing

Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

Views of Humanity and Nursing Practice: An Analysis of Nursing

Article excerpt


The purpose of this essay is to address some of the issues in practice which arise for nurses as a consequence of their view of humanity and the model of nursing which they use, either consciously or unconsciously. The current development of models and theories of nursing present a wide range of philosophical assumptions from which models for nursing can be understood. The normally accepted paradigm of nurse, health, society, and person, although presenting a common domain of concepts for nursing, does not offer a common set of assumptions on which the understanding of these elements can be agreed. The nature and characteristics of the person and their relationship with society health and practice as identified in any model or theory will determine the response of the nurse and the focus of practice.

Within this essay three approaches to nursing are compared and the differences between them are highlighted. The analysis shows the differing views of humanity held by each view and provides contrasting domain concepts for the context of care. The essay illustrates the Christian view of humanity in Diaconal nursing emphasising the context of healing through relationships and responsibility focusing on human worth. The natural approach to humanity illustrated through historical medical nursing which is concerned with a context of repairing with a focus on disease, disease prevention, and curing, while the humanistic view of humanity described in the SAUC model for confirming nursing which points out the context of strengthening of the human being's self and self-relation and focusing on human development and growth. Human dignity in these three examples is respectively recognised through the value placed on relationships and to God, on statistical normality at the cell and organ level, and on individual potential to achieve dignity through the ability to rise above individual circumstances.

Views of Humanity

Professional nursing has developed from a Judaeo-Christian understanding of humanity and personhood and from Western thought expressed through the medical model (Bradshaw 1994). Following the Reformation, medicine developed largely within a philosophical framework, which saw technology, science, and modernisation as the dominant truths. The goal of medicine became the eradication of illness and disability through the effective utilisation of human knowledge. These values owe much to Hellenistic dualistic thinking, enlightenment rationalism, and empiricism (Schaeffer 1990). Theories of body are many. The medical model presents a functional view of the body within the context of community. It is seen as a health hazard to be represented in epidemiological terms. Social and political theories have largely ignored the body placing their emphasis more on social structures than on concepts of humanity. The suggestion is that this is because scholars in humanities and social sciences wish to avoid biological determinism and the medical model. The humanistic view of humanity takes into account the unique human being's subjective experiences, opinions, and experiential meaning of life situations (Taylor 1978). Humanistic models of nursing are described in the context of holism and interpersonal relationships. They thus view nursing as both an art and a science (Marriner-Tomey 1994).

A Christian View of Humanity

Humankind as Primarily Spiritual Being

The Christian sees man as primarily a spiritual being (Sherlock 1996). There is a spiritual dimension to man's nature, which focuses the ultimate purpose of his existence towards a re-establishment of his relationship with God and so a state of wholeness with God as Creator and person. But this does not suggest that there is a separation between the body and the soul, rather man is identified as a psycho physical being, and psychical functions are bound closely to the physical nature. Man does not have a body, he is a body. …

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