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Human Becoming Theory
Rosemarie Rizzo Parse
This page was last updated on October 27, 2011


  • The Parse theory of human becoming guides nurses In their practice to focus on quality of life as it is described and lived (Karen & Melnechenko, 1995).

  • The human becoming theory of nursing presents an alternative to both the conventional bio-medical approach and the bio-psycho-social-spiritual (but still normative) approach of most other theories of nursing.(ICPS)

  • The human becoming theory posits quality of life from each person's own perspective as the goal of nursing practice.(ICPS)

  • Rosemarie Rizzo Parse first published the theory in 1981 as the "Man-living-health" theory (ICPS)

  • The name was officially changed to "the human becoming theory" in 1992 to remove the term "man," after the change in the dictionary definition of the word from its former meaning of "humankind."


  • Educated at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh
  • MSN and Ph.D. from University of Pittsburgh
  • Published her theory of nursing, Man-Living-Health in 1981
  • Name changed to Theory of Human Becoming in 1992
  • Editor and Founder, Nursing Science Quarterly
  • Has published eight books and hundreds of articles about Human Becoming Theory
  • Professor and Niehoff Chair at Loyola University, Chicago


  • The human becoming theory was developed as a human science nursing theory in the tradition of Dilthey, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Gadamer and Science of Unitary Human Beings by Martha Rogers .

  • The assumptions underpinning the theory were synthesized from works by the European philosophers, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, along with works by the pioneer American nurse theorist, Martha Rogers.

  • The theory is structured around three abiding themes: meaning, rhythmicity, and transcendence.


About man

  • The human is coexisting while coconstituting rhythmical patterns with the universe.
  • The human is open, freely choosing meaning in situation, bearing responsibility for decisions.
  • The human is unitary, continuously coconstituting patterns of relating.
  • The human is transcending multidimensionally with the possibles
About Becoming
  • Becoming is unitary human-living-health.
  • Becoming is a rhythmically coconstituting human-universe process.
  • Becoming is the human’s patterns of relating value priorities.
  • Becoming is an intersubjective process of transcending with the possibles.
  • Becoming is unitary human’s emerging

Three Major Assumptions of Human Becoming

  • Meaning
    • Human Becoming is freely choosing personal meaning in situations in the intersubjective process of living value priorities.
    • Man’s reality is given meaning through lived experiences
    • Man and environment cocreate
  • Rhythmicity
    • Human Becoming is cocreating rhythmical patterns of relating in mutual process with the universe.
    • Man and environment cocreate ( imaging, valuing, languaging) in rhythmical patterns
  • Transcendence
    • Human Becoming is cotranscending multidimensionally with emerging possibles.
    • Refers to reaching out and beyond the limits that a person sets
    • One constantly transforms


  • Human Becoming Theory includes Totality Paradigm

    • Man is a combination of biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual factors

  • Simultaneity Paradigm
    • Man is a unitary being in continuous, mutual interaction with environment
  • Originally Man-Living-Health Theory


  • Person
    • Open being who is more than and different from the sum of the parts
  • Environment
    • Everything in the person and his experiences
    • Inseparable, complimentary to and evolving with
  • Health
    • Open process of being and becoming. Involves synthesis of values
  • Nursing
    • A human science and art that uses an abstract body of knowledge to serve people


  • Black and white = opposite paradox significant to ontology of human becoming and green is hope

  • Center joined =co created mutual human universe process at the ontological level & nurse-person process

  • Green and black swirls intertwining = human-universe co creation as an ongoing process of becoming



  • Differentiates nursing from other disciplines
  • Practice - Provides guidelines of care and useful administration
  • Useful in Education
  • Provides research methodologies
  • Provides framework to guide inquiry of other theories (grief, hope, laughter, etc.)


  • Research considered to be in a “closed circle”
  • Rarely quantifiable results - Difficult to compare to other research studies, no control group, standardized questions, etc.
  • Does not utilized the nursing process/diagnoses
  • Negates the idea that each person engages in a unique lived experience
  • Not accessible to the novice nurse
  • Not applicable to acute, emergent care


Nursing Practice

  • A transformative approach to all levels of nursing
  • Differs from the traditional nursing process, particularly in that it does not seek to “fix” problems
  • Ability to see patients perspective allows nurse to “be with” patient and guide them toward desired health outcomes
  • Nurse-person relationship cocreates changing health patterns


  • Enhances understanding of human lived experience, health, quality of life and quality of nursing practice
  • Expands the theory of human becoming
  • Builds new nursing knowledge about universal lived experiences which may ultimately contribute to health and quality of life


  • Congruence with personal values
    • Nurse must subscribe to this world view to truly use it
  • Congruence with other professional values
    • Complements and competes with other health care professionals’ values
    • Exoteric foundations
    • Esoteric utility
  • Congruence with social values
    • Fulfills society’s expectations of nursing role
  • Social Significance
    • Makes a substantial difference in the lives of clients and nurses


  1. Nursing practice in human becoming: the "Parse nurse" in French Switzerland
  2. The lived experience of suffering: a parse research method study
  3. On joy-sorrow: a paradoxical pattern of human becoming
  4. Human becoming criticism--a critique of Florczak's study on the lived experience of sacrificing something important
  5. A Human Becoming perspective on quality of life
  6. Feeling respected: a Parse method study


  1. Karen L. Melnechenko. Parse's Theory of Human Becoming: An Alternative Guide to Nursing Practice for Pediatric Oncology Nurses. Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, Vol. 12, No. 3, 122-127 (1995)

  2. ICPS-International Consortium of Parse Scholars website




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