Academic journal article Creative Nursing

Transformation from Within: A Concept Analysis of Epiphany

Academic journal article Creative Nursing

Transformation from Within: A Concept Analysis of Epiphany

Article excerpt

The aim of this article is to explore the concept of epiphany using a modified version of Walker and Avant's (2005) concept analysis procedures. This transformative experience produces behavior change that can impact wellness. The occurrence of epiphanies through analysis of historical figures, retrospective and qualitative studies, and literary works is described. Evidence suggests this phenomenon can be profound, liberating, and enduring. Nursing research has not considered the potential of epiphanies as a behavior change theory to improve health behaviors and wellness.

Keywords: epiphany; concept analysis; behavior change; rapid transformation; wellness

Archimedes is credited as one of the greatest mathematicians in history. He was also an inventor and scientist who appeared to have experienced an epiphany. Legend has it that he shouted, "Eureka!" ("I have found it!"), when he discovered how to calculate density by displacing water while visiting a bathhouse. Allegedly, he had such an intense emotional reaction to the sudden realization that he ran home naked. Since that time, the expression "eureka" or "aha" represents the moment when the solution to a problem appears in a sudden flash of insight, or an epiphany (Who Was Archimedes?, 2003). An epiphany can be more than a solution to a problem; it can inexplicably transform lives in an instant. It is a moment that changes a person so deeply that he or she is no longer the same. How this process occurs is not well understood, but when it happens, the results can be enduring and significant (Miller & C'de Baca, 2001).

The purpose of this analysis is to explore an operational definition of epiphany so that health care professionals can identify this phenomenon in practice. This concept is important in health care because it has potential as a behavior change theory. People who experience an epiphany tend to be able to make rapid, positive changes, which could potentially lead to better health outcomes. Nurses are in a unique position to recognize epiphamc experiences and to help individuals integrate this life-changing occurrence. This article offers baseline information to initiate discussion and stimulate thought. The procedures outlined by Walker and Avant (2005) provided the structure to organize this concept analysis. The modified version includes the description of uses, defining attributes, antecedents, consequences, and a model case. The following paragraph details the search methods used to flesh out the necessary components for this structure.

A literature review encompassing the years 2006-2014 was conducted using a university's database that included interdisciplinary searches. Attempts to connect nursing research to this type of change yielded minimal results. However, nurses do use the term epiphany when describing the profession of nursing, work conditions, and lessons learned from patients. The findings in qualitative studies used epiphany as themes, but no studies appeared with epiphanies as the concept of interest.


Examples of epiphanies occur throughout history. Many religious, social, and therapeutic movements emanated from people who experienced an epiphany. One of the most well-known accounts of an epiphany occurred when Saul of Tarsus, the orthodox Jew and persecutor of Christians, became Paul, the Christian missionary, on the road to Damascus. Core elements of an epiphany displayed by Paul included experiencing (a) a personal crisis, (b) a breakdown and breakthrough moment, and (c) a changed identity that caused him to embark on a new life course (W. White, 2004, p. 462). His commitment to his new life course led a religious movement that extended throughout the world. Other individuals responsible for religious movements after reportedly experiencing an epiphany included Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Buddha, Mohammed, Luther, and Wesley (W. White, 2004).

Social reforms have also been led by people who described experiencing an epiphany. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.