A Critique of Margaret Newman's Theory of Health as Expanding Consciousness

Dr. Margaret Newman’s theory, Health as Expanding Consciousness, initially stemmed from the theory of ‘Unitary Human Beings’ by Martha Rogers as a result of concerns by people who viewed differently the meaning of health. To them, as is espoused by Dr. Margaret, health was/ is not limited to the absence of disability or disease, however was pegged on other vital fundamentals too. Thus, the theory through time has evolved to be inclusive of all people’s overall health regardless of the absence or presence of disease.

Thus, the theory is of assertion that all human beings, regardless of their situation, are part of the global development of increasing consciousness, a process through which a person becomes more aware of himself/herself. This consciousness helps individuals to find greater life meaning, and thus, be able to reach new scopes of interconnectedness with their surrounding environment and world in general. Therefore, according to the above, people are identified through their individual patterns of disease or health. Nurses, often interact with individuals, who are facing debilitation, uncertainty, and the loss or eventual death, because of chronic illnesses (Newman, 2003).

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Based on the interconnectivity of all living things in the universe, interaction is based on energy and leads to the evolution of individual patterns. The understanding of these patterns is critical, as it necessitates an expansion of consciousness. Disease manifestation, accordingly, is dependent on an individual’s pattern, and thus, the treatment of disease and its symptoms is not impactful on the overall individual structure. Dr. Newman views nursing as the recognition of an individual in relation to the existent environment, and thus, it is the practice of identifying with consciousness.

Of vital importance is Dr. Newman’s recognition and thus promotion of nurse/caregiver-patient relationships often commencing during periods of uncertainty, disruption and unpredictability. Nurses are thus, aspect of change in their interactions with their patients and vice versa. Therefore, nurses are able to experience joy through participation in the increasing process of other individuals in aiding their interconnectivity with the universal realm, and consequently, are positively transformed and enhanced themselves (Newman, 2010).

Thus, in analyzing the above theory, I shall use Chinn & Kramer’s model for evaluating theory. Accordingly, the increase in a variant of nursing theories necessitates a need for their evaluation through critical analysis. Guidelines have been created to aid in the above, as espoused by Chinn and Kramer (1998). Their guideline is inclusive of a theory’s simplicity, clarity, generality, its derivable consequences and empirical precision. These are the five uniting assumptions that are based on human beings life process. In addition, there are four concepts that are utilized to develop principles, which postulate on the development of human beings.

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Accordingly, clarity refers to the clear understanding of a theory, and its inherent concepts being interrelated through connected propositions that are stated clearly. Theories should thus be congruent from their core paradigms being enhanced by diagrammed relationships. Thus, considering the abovementioned factors, Newman is correct in identifying the interconnected nature of human health, as part of a wider Universal scheme. She is of the view that energy patterns characterize a human being’s overall health, in resonance with the universe’s energy.

 The simplicity of Newman’s theory is not well encapsulated, as her theory is rife with a number of complex issues, among them the understanding of universal energy that is vital to the well-being of all humans. It is important to mention that health, according to her, is pegged on the individual’s energy pattern being inclusive of an illness or not. Through her view of overall health as being an interrelated between a disease/illness on one side and bodily health on the other, is indicative of the notion that disease is not included in a person’s health status (Chinn & Kramer, 1998).

Thus, in generality, her theory is broadly applicable, as it is not limited by either situation or time. Due to the interrelationship between nurses and their patients, the theory is evident in a framework of differing situations. This may be pegged on the fact, that it is unlimited by the presence of a patient’s condition/ illness. Though stated, it is not that simple to comprehend, and thus cannot be broadly generalized.

On empirical precision, the theory can only be tested indirectly through limited operational definitions. The theory, however, lacks much research in support of its premises and thus, it is immeasurable. Due to this, its derivable consequences pertaining to its importance and adoptability options is not well accepted, as there is limited research and clinical practice so as to ascertain its practicability.

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Furtherance to this is the fact that it deviates from the core assumption of human health being the lack/absence of an illness/disease in a human body, by stating that the presence of the illness in a person, does not in the overall instance affect his/her health. An illness, according to the theory, is a part of the individual’s energy pattern and thus does not affect his/her health (Meleis, 2011).

In conclusion, Dr. Newman bases her arguments on the fact that the overall health and wellbeing of an individual is pegged on their expansion of consciousness and that persons suffering from illness cannot have the illness separated from them. However, positive interactions from a patient-nurse are vital for positive energy flow on not only the patient’s dimension, but also the nurses, thus a positive vibrancy in the universal energy.

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