Contributor: Peggy Chinn
August 23, 2018
Authors – Patricia Benner, RN, PhD, FAAN and Judith Wrubel
Year First Published – 1989
Stress in Illness
Caring is primary because it determines and constitutes what matters to people.
Drawing on Heideggerian phenomenology, Benner and Wrubel posit a phenomenologic view of the person central to this view of caring. The person is a self-interpreting being who is defined by the process of living and being in the world. The immediate grasping of situational meaning—self-interpretation—is possible because of the following human characteristics: (1) embodied intelligence, (2) acquisition of background meaning, and (3) concern.
Nursing is a process of helping people cope with the stress of illness, not by following sets of prescribed rules but by contextually dependent caring and concern. Understanding the illness experience of the patient is central to concern and caring. Illness is a central focus of nursing. Illness is not reducible to disease (cellular pathology), but it connotes human loss experiences and dysfunction precipitated by human loss. Because nursing concerns itself with the relationship between the disease process and the illness experience of self-interpreting beings, a concept of mind–body dualism is not possible.
Caring in the context of nursing depends on discerning problems; recognizing solutions; and helping patients implement, and live, a solution. Thus nursing is a moral act that goes beyond mere application of scientific knowledge. Caring concern is central to human (nurse and patient) understanding of the situation of illness. Concern allows both nurse and patient to be in touch with the patient’s lived experience.
Because human beings can inhabit a common world with common meanings, common stress and coping patterns will exist. Phenomenologically grounded scientific study of stress and coping would reveal those common themes, meanings, and personal concerns as a basis for understanding caring practices in nursing.
–adapted from Chinn, P. L., & Kramer, M. (2018). Knowledge Development in Nursing: Theory and Process (10th ed.). St Louis: Elsevier.
Benner, P., & Wrubel, J. (1989). The primacy of caring. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley.
Patricia Benner and Judith Wrubel
Patricia Benner, professor of nursing at the University of California, and Judith Wrubel, medical researcher at the University of California-San Francisco, are two major writers in nursing theory who specialize in what can be termed a “developmental” or “interpretive” approach to the person as patient. In general, the basic concept of nursing here is based around an ethic of care that deals with the patient as a whole. Therefore, the main thrust of nursing is a type of care that deals with patient mental issues, stress and emotions as well as clinical practice. (https://careertrend.com/about-6315001-benner-wrubel-s-nursing-theory.html)
“Dr. Benner is the Chief Faculty Development Officer for EducatingNurses.com.