Rosemarie Rizzo Parse’s Theory of Human Becoming


This assignment is a critique of Rosemarie Rizzo Parse’s Theory of Human Becoming. The critique is based on Fawcett’s criteria of evaluation of nursing theories. The assignment begins with a short description of the theorist (Rosemarie Rizzo Parse) and some historical background about the origin and development of the theory. This is followed by a brief summary of the theory and why it can be categorized under grand theories. What follows is a critique of the theory based on the specific criteria for grand theories, then a conclusion which sums up the main points of the assignment. The assignment uses sources from various publications and online journals.


Background of the Theorist

The theorist being referred to here is Rosemarie Rizzo Parse’s. She is a holder of a Masters’s and a Ph.D. in nursing from Pittsburg University. She has written massive volumes of articles on nursing theories and in particular, on human becoming theory. She is also the founder and editor of the renowned nursing journal titled ‘Nursing Science Quarterly‘. She was the founder of the human becoming theory in 1981, which was then referred to as Man-Living-Health. Currently, she works as a professor in the University of Loyola University in Chicago (Parse, 2007. pp.308-311).

Summary of the Human Becoming Theory

As I have mentioned above, the theory was founded by Rosemarie Rizzo Parse in 1981 with the name Man-Living-Health theory (Cody, 2010). However, the name changed to human becoming theory in 1992 due to the change in the definition of man, which was initially used to mean ‘human kind’. The theory was further developed by Martha Rogers to become a human science nursing theory, based on the traditions of Sartre, Heidegger, and Dilthey among others (Parse, 2010). As a human science nursing theory, the human becoming theory was seen as a new school of thought and an alternative to the then conventional theories of nursing which included the bio-medical and bio-psycho-social-spiritual theories (Parse, 2004. pp.33-35).

It was seen as an alternative to the conventional approaches in the sense that it brought a new dimension of nursing theories, which was seen as a radical departure from the generic conceptualization of the goals of nursing to the conceptualization of the goals of nursing as being based on putting more emphasis on the quality of life from the individuals’ perspective. What this means is that the human becoming approach conceptualized health and nursing in a more inclusive and collaborative manner (Parse, 2010).

The theory is based on three main pillars namely meaning, rhythmicity and transcendence. These pillars are based on three guiding principles of the theory. The first pillar (meaning) is based on the first principle of human becoming as I quote the works of Parse ‘Structuring meaning is the imaging and valuing of languaging’ (Cody, 2010). The meaning of this phrase is that people, through self-expression and in collaboration with others create a life which best pleases them (Parse, 2010).

The second pillar (rhythmicity) is based on the second principle of the human becoming theory which states that, as I quote ‘Configuring rhythmical patterns of relating is the revealing-concealing and enabling-limiting of connecting-separating’ (Parse, 2010). The meaning of this quote is that life is composed of rhythmic patterns of limitations and opportunities (Parse, 2010).

The third pillar is based on the third human becoming principle which states that ‘Cotranscending with possible is the powering and originating of transforming’ (Cody, 2010). The meaning of this phrase is that individuals forge forward in unique ways despite difficulties and challenges in life; in other words, each and every individual has got his or her own unique escape routes during times of crisis (Cody, 2010).

Its assumption about man is that man is free and able to make decisions regarding his life choices. On becoming, it assumes that ‘Becoming is unitary human’s emerging’ (Parse, 2010). It summarizes the nature of man as being a product of a multiplicity of factors including biological, spiritual, sociological and psychological factors (Parse, 2010).

One of the strengths of the theory is that it provides an infrastructure for the administration of care to those who are in need of it. It is also credited for its ability to distinguish nursing from other professions. Above all, it is very useful in the investigation and research of complex nursing issues like grieve, joy and optimism. However, it has its weaknesses as well (Karen, 1995. pp.122-127).

One of the weaknesses which have been highly pointed out by health care analysts is that it is not easy to verify its arguments due to its inability to quantify the results of its research. It is also found wanting in terms of its ignorance of the diagnosis processes which are very popular in generic nursing interventions.

Practicing nurses may apply the theory in at least all levels of nursing. However, the nurses must be willing, ready and able to understand the perspective of the patient about his or her health. Nurses are supposed to be able to customize care to each and every patient. This not only helps the patient and the nurse have a good rapport but also enables the nurse to guide and educate the patient on the best health practices based on the patient’s perspective or conceptualization of health and well-being (Karen, 1995. pp.122-127).

Why This Theory Falls Under the Category of Grand Theories

This theory falls under the category of grand theories because it contains broad perspectives of nursing, which are conceptualized in a definitive framework. The broad perspectives include things like the conceptualization of health by clients, the goals of nursing from different perspectives, the aspects of the environment and its impacts on the health of individuals and the nature and philosophy of nursing.

It is a grand theory because, from it, other theories may be derived that deal with specific aspects of health and nursing. For example, through research, theories may be derived from it which explains the relationship between the health of individuals and their perceptions on an ideal healthy individual as well as on the relationship between the culture of individuals and their health-seeking behaviors. As a grand theory, the human becoming theory is capable of shaping the past, present and future of the nursing profession, unlike middle-range theories which mostly dwell on the present issues in nursing (Parse, 2010).

Critique of the Theory

The critique of the theory as a grand theory can be based on its social significance. This basically means looking at the significance of the theory on nursing practice in terms of how it fits or fails to fit within the existing generic nursing framework. To begin with, the significance of the theory on the practicing nurses is that they must appreciate and acknowledge its approach to nursing so as to use it in any level of nursing.

What this means is that the theory may be limited in scope because not all the nurses may subscribe to its tenets and approach to nursing. The nurses must be ready and prepared to work and walk together with their patients each step; from the identification of the problem to its diagnosis and follow up, something which is rare with the other convectional approaches to nursing, which perceive the role of the nurse as purely dealing with acute cases of care.

The theory can be said to be congruent with the societal expectations of nursing. The society expects nursing to offer care in an all-round basis, but not focusing only on the acute care cases. It also expects nursing to play the role of awareness creation and sensitization of communities on health care as well as the role of educating the communities about preventive and home based care (Karen, 1995. pp.122-127).

This is what the theory is based on because it requires nurses to be in the fore front and provide what is referred to as nursing leadership, where they are supposed to work hand in hand with other health care stakeholders and providers like physicians, policy makers, therapists and social workers in deliberating on how to have best practices and provision of patient oriented care services (Karen, 1995. pp.122-127). The theory, if properly observed is capable of making significant impacts on the lives of clients and those of nurses as well. This is because the theory is presumed to operate on the principle of putting the client’s needs first, and offering health care which is all round. Through the theory, clients not only have their health care issues adequately addressed but also benefit from the knowledge, skills and expertise of the nurses in detecting various illnesses as early as possible and seeking the proper medical intervention. What I mean here is that the client’s capacity to deal with personal health issues is enhanced through his or her interaction with the nurse (Karen, 1995. pp.122-127).

The nurses on the other hand are able to interact with their clients both in informal and formal settings, which enable them to learn and understand various dimensions of dealing with health issues which affect different clients. This is especially due to the fact that the human becoming theory requires the nurses to harmonize and integrate the goals of nursing with the perspectives of the clients about heath care. What this means to the nurses is that they get to learn new ways of intervention in administering health care to clients (Karen, 1995. pp.122-127).

In terms of congruence with other professional values, the theory can be seen to complement the values of other health care professions like counseling, psychiatry and social work practices which deal with health care issues. Some of these values which are complemented by the human being theory are value for life, respect for peoples’ dignity, avoidance of nonjudgmental attitude towards clients and the emphasis on professionalism and ethical conduct by health care providers. This complementarity makes it easy for any health care practitioner, irrespective of whether he or she is a nurse or not, to easily integrate the principles of the theory with those of his or her area of practice due to the similarity of basic principles and values between the human becoming theory and various areas of health care practice.


This assignment was a critique of the human becoming theory by Rosemarie Rizzo Parse. The theory was founded by Rosemarie Rizzo Parse’s in 1981 but with the name Man-Living-Health theory (Cody, 2010). In 1992, the theory was renamed human becoming theory as it was co-opted as a human science nursing theory. The theory was seen as a newer approach in defining the goals of nursing, where it emphasized on the importance of nurses to integrate the goals of nursing with the perspectives of clients about the goal of nursing in the society.

The theory is based on three main pillars namely meaning, rhythmicity and transcendence. One of the strengths of the theory is that it provides clear guidelines on care administration and provision. One of the weaknesses of the theory is that it does not quantify its results nor does it have control groups in its research design. Its social significance in health care is that it meets the expectations of the society on nursing, thus making the society embrace the culture if preventive health care as well as home based care.


Cody, W.K (2010). ‘Parse’s Human becoming School of Thought. International consortium of parse scholars’. Web.

Karen L. M.(1995). 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, pp.122-127.

Parse, R. R. (2004). A human becoming teaching learning model. Nursing Science Quarterly, 17,pp.33-35.

Parse, R. R. (2007). The human becoming school of thought in 2050. Nursing Science Quarterly, 20, pp.308-311.

Parse, R. R. (2010). ‘Human Becoming Theory: Nursing Theories a companion to nursing theories and models’. Web.