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Kenneth Gergen’s concept of multi-being: an application to the nurse-patient relationship
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, vol. 22, no. Published: 15 April 2019, pp. 599-611
The nurse–patient relationship is of great significance for both nurses and patients. The purpose of this article is to gain an understanding of how the individual is constituted through a focus on the execution of the patient’s and nurse’s role in the joint relationship. The article represents a social-constructionist consideration using Kenneth Gergen’s concept of multi-being. Gergen’s notions of the self as a multi-being focuses on the individual’s relational character through former relationships and social interactions. Gergen’s concept is applied onto nurses and patients as individuals to gain an understanding of the broader institutional and social context of each role and their interactions within the nurse–patient relationship. The article focuses on the nurse–patient relationship in general with regard to specific challenges in the home care setting. Various demands and experiences from a myriad of past relationships merge as potential actions for nurses and patients during the forming of a relationship. Nurses as multi-beings see themselves confronted with guidelines and legal conditions, their own as well as the patients’ expectations and the actual possible forming of a relationship in the light of daily nursing care. Patients as multi-beings experience an extended social environment that comprises the nurse–patient relationship while simultaneously having to cope with illness and increasing care dependency within their own homes. Discrepancies can be observed in the relationship with regard to the inherent human qualities, the demands of forming a relationship, and the actual relationship arising due to framework conditions.