International Consortium of Parse Scholars
Rosemarie Rizzo Parse
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Parse's Humanbecoming School of Thought

A Brief Introduction by William K. Cody, RN; PhD; FAAN
(updated May 2010 by Debra A. Bournes, RN; PhD)

The humanbecoming school of thought presents an alternative to both the conventional bio-medical approach and the bio-psycho-social-spiritual (but still normative) approach of theories of nursing. The humanbecoming school of thought posits quality of life from each person's or group’s own perspective as the goal of nursing. Rosemarie Rizzo Parse first published the theory in 1981 as the "Man-living-health" theory. The name was officially changed to "the humanbecoming theory" in 1992 to remove the term "man," after the change in the dictionary definition of the word from its former meaning of "humankind." The humanbecoming theory was developed as a human science nursing theory and evolved into a school of thought in the tradition of Dilthey, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Gadamer. The assumptions underpinning the work were synthesized from works by the European philosophers, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, along with works by the pioneer American nurse theorist, Rogers. The theory is structured around three abiding themes: meaning, rhythmicity, and transcendence.

The first theme, MEANING, is expressed in the first principle of humanbecoming, which states that "Structuring meaning is the imaging and valuing of languaging" (Parse, 2007, p. 309). This principle means that people coparticipate in creating what is real for them through self-expression in living their values in a chosen way.

The second theme, RHYTHMICITY, is expressed in the second principle of humanbecoming, which states that "Configuring rhythmical patterns of relating is the revealing-concealing and enabling-limiting of connecting-separating" (Parse, 2007, p. 309). This principle means that the unity of life encompasses apparent opposites in rhythmic patterns of relating. It means that in living moment-to-moment one shows and does not show self as opportunities and limitations emerge in moving with and apart from others.

The third theme, TRANSCENDENCE, is expressed in the third principle of humanbecoming, which states that "Cotranscending with possibles is the powering and originating of transforming" (Parse, 2007, p. 309). This principle means that moving beyond the "now" moment is forging a unique personal path for oneself in the midst of ambiguity and continuous change.

The themes and principles of humanbecoming are permeated by four postulates: illimitability, paradox, freedom, and mystery (Parse, 2007). ILLIMITABILITY is “the indivisible unbounded knowing extended to infinity, the all-at-once remembering and prospecting with the moment” (p. 308). PARADOX is “an intricate rhythm expressed as a pattern preference” (p. 309). Paradoxes are not “opposites to be reconciled or dilemmas to be overcome but, rather, lived rhythms” (p. 309). FREEDOM is “contextually construed liberation” (p. 309). Humans are free and continuously choose ways of being with their situations. MYSTERY “is the unexplainable, that which cannot be completely known” (p. 309). It is the inconceivable, unutterable, unknowable nature of the indivisible, unpredictable, everchanging humanuniverse (Parse, 2007, 2008).

Nurses live the art of humanbecoming in true presence with the unfolding of illuminating meaning, synchronizing rhythms, and mobilizing transcendence. Research guided by humanbecoming sheds light on the meaning of universal humanly lived experiences such as hope, taking life day-by-day, grieving, suffering, and courage. Dr. Parse has also set forth humanbecoming ethical tenets of human dignity (Parse, 2010) and developed leading-following (Parse, 2008a), teaching-learning (Parse, 2004), mentoring (Parse, 2008b), and family models (Parse, 2009) that are used worldwide. For more information, see the many articles and book chapters published by Dr. Parse and others. You can also visit Dr. Parse's website.


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

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

Parse, R. R. (2008a). The humanbecoming leading-following model. Nursing Science Quarterly, 21, 369-375.

Parse, R. R. (2008b). A humanbecoming mentoring model. Nursing Science Quarterly, 21, 195-198.

Parse, R. R. (2009). The humanbecoming family model. Nursing Science Quarterly, 22, 305-309.

Parse, R. R. (2010). Human dignity: A humanbecoming ethical phenomenon. Nursing Science Quarterly, 23(3).