The self-care deficit theory of nursing is a general theory that descriptively explains nursing as a human health service. It should be known to nurses as it is to others who write about theories that the expression of theory assumes prior objectification on the part of the theorist. Objectification involves persons in the contemplation of their own mental processes and in giving a concrete or objective existence to a thought or a conception. Objectification in this sense involves separation of a thought or a formulated concept of something from one's mental processes.
Between 1959 and 1973 I formalized several definitions of nursing. They reflect the refinement of my thinking about the answer to the question “What is nursing?”
This paper was originally presented at the Columbia Veteran's Administration Hospital in Colum-
bia, MO, on April 9, 1986.