Deeper Perspective on the Concept of Care

Among various nationalities serving American and European hospitals, Filipino nurses are considered the favorite due to the so-called “tender loving care”. Friendly, competent and collaborative, nursing homes, hospitals and wellness centers demand Filipino nurses, because of their distinct caring quality, aside from their language and educational advantage. Aside from this, Jocano asserts that movie themes and Filipino songs show how soft-hearted and sentimental Filipinos are. As “pusong-mamon”, Filipinos are emotional. This puts Filipinos good caregivers and nurses. However, there still exist a need to know what care really is.

Several theorists and authors attempt to explain and describe the essence of the nursing profession – caring. One of them is Jean Watson, an American nursing scholar who specializes in psychiatric-mental health nursing and educational psychology and counseling. In connection this, nurses in various parts of the world study published works of Watson, describing her philosophy and theory of human caring. In her various works, Watson (1999) defines the science and art of nursing “as a human science of persons and human health—illness experiences mediated by professional, personal, scientific, esthetic, and ethical human care transactions”. Care according to Watson enables the attainment of health of nursing clientele; an integral concept in nursing referred as “the unity and harmony within the body, mind and soul” and “associated with the degree of congruence between the self as perceived and the self as experienced.”

Others, however, consider caring as a mere result of a feeling or an attitude, which makes the concept vague. This has led Watson (2002) to assert that as a human science of persons mediated by human care transactions, caring, central to nursing is more than an emotion or an attitude (p. 4). Instead, it is an “intersubjective human process” wherein a caring person is “responsive to another person as a unique individual, (and) perceives the other’s feelings, and sets one person apart from another person.” Consequently, caring enhances the worth or “halaga” of the other ensuring that individuals respond in a way that considers the value of another as manifested through action, behavior or “asal”.

Besides, through this intersubjective process, nurses help people address their health problems and simultaneously, accomplish their “ethical covenant with society”. To do this, nurses must connect with and develop transpersonal relationships with another person through caring, which requires nurses to go “beyond or through the personal”. Therefore, this relationship is not an interaction between persons but there exists a feeling of connection to a larger, more meaningful reality.

Caplan (2006) explains that transpersonal relationship associates with the relational belief of the existence of the spirit. This concept of profound transformation of the usual egoistic, self-centered existence associates with some ultimately satisfying or valuable condition. Watson’s transpersonal concept of caring is relevant to Caplan’s explanations as she presented caring as going beyond crisis and fear of illness and life changes to develop one’s caring consciousness and inner peace, regardless of time, space and physicality. Watson further favors the study of persons beyond the realm of self-bounded existence.

The accentuation on the spiritual dimension of the transpersonal inter-subjective process between the nurse and the patient intertwines with the humanistic school of thought. Watson (1979) elucidates this philosophy as largely founded on the grounds of “Being” and appreciation of the significance of “Being”.

Furthermore, Heidegger, a German philosopher in his book Being and Time, focused on trying to delve on the question of “Being” and the prospect of “Dasein”. Harmonizing with Heidegger, the very structure of Dasein’s being is care (Sorge[1]) (Heidegger, 1962). For Heidegger, Dasein finds around what it considers the most pressing for its “there-being”. This concern for the being sets Dasein apart from every other being; thereby exposing the essence of the relational Dasein. With its relational essence, care regards as “both a relation “to being” and an obligation to be”. Moreover, Heidegger emphasizes the “Being” as a deviation from the measurable dominant framework of the techno-curative science, which Watson likes to transcend from.

The Heideggerian concept of Dasein explicates Watson’s ten carative factors as the fulfillment of the humanness or Heidegger’s Being. As an influence of Martin Heidegger, Watson (1979) avers that caring exists between people with unique phenomenological field, which alludes to the totality of experience at any given moment. Thus, the task of nursing is to find subjective meaning of these experiences, rather than on focusing largely on addressing patient needs through modern conventional science.

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