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Jean Watson's Caring Science as Sacred Science - Theory of Human Caring

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Theory of Human Caring

All you need is love (and human caring)

"Caring is the moral ideal, and entails mind-body-soul engagement with one another"

Caring to know, Knowing to Care

Caring Science as Sacred Science



(Margaret) Jean Watson, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN

* Theorist - Jean Watson was born in West Virginia, US

* Educated: BSN, University of Colorado, 1964,

* MS, University of Colorado, 1966

* PhD, University of Colorado, 1973

* Distinguished Professor of Nursing and Chair in Caring Science at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Centre.

* Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

* Dean of Nursing at the University Health Sciences Centre and President of the National League for Nursing

* Undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing and psychiatric-mental health nursing and PhD in educational psychology and counselling.

* Six (6) Honorary Doctoral Degrees.

* Research has been in the area of human caring and loss.

* In 1988, her theory was published in "nursing: human science and human care".

"No one was giving voice to the human experience," says Dr.Watson. "I was longing for intellectual theories or values or a conceptual framework of what was happening with patient care and the human-to-human relationships."


Thesis and Dissertation:

Watson, J. (1973). The effect of feelings and various forms of feedback upon conflict in a political group problem solving

situation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.


Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring

Watson, J. (2008 in process) Assessing and Measuring Caring in Nursing and Health Sciences. Second Revised Edition. NY: Springer.

Watson, J. (2008 in print). Nursing. The Philosophy and Science of Caring. Revised & Updated Edition. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.


Jean Watson's Caring Science as Sacred Science builds on her previous work, Nursing: Human Science and Human Care: A Theory of Nursing. This theory is one of the newest of nursing's grand theories, having only been completely codified in 1979, revised in 1985 (Watson, 1988), and broadened and advanced more recently (Watson, 2005). Watson called her earlier work a descriptive theory of caring and stated that it was the only theory of nursing to incorporate the spiritual dimension of nursing at the time it was first conceptualized.

The theory was both deductive and inductive in its origins and was written at an abstract level of discourse.

Watson (2005) has always described the human as a holistic, interactive being, and is now explicit in describing the human as an energy field and in explaining health and illness as manifestations of the human pattern, two tenets of the unitary process theories. Based on overall considerations, Caring Science and Sacred Science is more reflective of the interactive process nursing theories.

With the Theory of Human Caring, Dr. Watson developed a practice rubric of 10 Caritas Processes. (Caritas is a Latin verb meaning to cherish, to provide charity, to acknowledge its fragility, and deep ethic of caring, making a connection between caring and love.) Caritas honors the dignity of self and other and wholeness of being, which empowers nurses--and thereby their patients--through the quality of their caring-healing relationships and interactions.

The Caritas Processes themselves read more like affirmations or a prescription for personal growth than a cure for what ails health care. (Caritas 3 states: "Be sensitive to self and others by nurturing individual beliefs and practices.") But by honouring intangibles like human dignity and integrity, transformation might follow.

Rather than perform their jobs by rote, the human caring philosophy and theory, combined with an expanded model of caring science, gives nurses the space to reflect on the disciplinary-ethical foundation of their practices and experience themselves as healers.


* Watson(1998) noted that she drew parts of her theory from nursing writers, including Nightingale and Rogers.

* She also used concepts from the works of psychologists Giorgio, Johnson, and Koch

* She reported being widely read in these disciplines and synthesized a number of diverse concepts from them into nursing as a science of human caring.

* In her current work, Watson (2005) seeks to "bridge paradigms and point towards transformative models for the 21st century.


Explicit assumptions that were derived for Watson's current work (2005) include:

* "An ontological assumption of oneness, wholeness, unity, relatedness, and connectedness.

* An epistemological assumption that there are multiple ways of knowing...

* Diversity of knowing assumes all, and various forms of evidence can be included

* A Caring Science model makes these diverse perspectives explicitly and directly.

* Moral-metaphysical integration of science evokes spirit; this orientation is not only possible but also necessary for our science, humanity, society, civilization, and world-planet.

* A Caring Science emergence, founded on new assumptions makes explicit an expanding unitary, energetic world-view with a relational human caring ethic and ontology as its starting point." (Watson, 2005, p. 28).

o Watson (2005) describes the tenets of caring science



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