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Holism and Embodiment in Nursing: Using Goethean Science to Join 2 Perspectives on Patient Care

Mason, Deanna M. PhD, RN, CNP

doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000010
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Holism is a central concept in nursing theory, yet recently, embodiment has become prominent in the literature. Epistemological foundations from modern and contemporary philosophy are discussed and their relationship to nursing practice is explored to investigate the concepts of holism and embodiment. Nurses practice holistic care within the patient encounter while patients live an embodied experience. This creates inherent dissonance in the nurse-patient interaction. Goethean science is presented as a way to reconcile this discrepancy, to allow the nurse to better understand the patient's embodiment and, by default, his or her own embodiment. A new perspective of how nursing practice can use Goethean science and an embodied perspective are presented as a means to actualize Carper's fundamental pattern of knowing of personal knowledge within the nurse-patient interaction. With this approach, the nurse is able to examine the phenomenon of the patient with the patient to explore the essential nature that makes the patient who he or she is and what he or she is trying to become. During this exploration, the nurse uses the senses, language, and a critical mind to do what no machine or test could—to see the underlying meaningfulness and internal coherence of the patient. The intuitive revelation would expose nursing interventions simultaneously. Moving beyond the myopic perspective of how to keep “person” central to the nursing metaparadigm, nursing is beginning to see the embodiment of the patient as a means for understanding and providing care for patients. The challenge that remains is for nurses to see their own embodiment and reflect on if or how it is at odds with the necessity of providing holistic care to patients.

Pastoral Care, Parish Nurse, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, Madrid, Spain.

Correspondence: Deanna M. Mason, PhD, RN, CNP, Pastoral Care, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, Calle Drácena 23, 28016 Madrid, Spain (masondeanna@hotmail.com).

The author has disclosed that she has no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2014 by Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins