Science of Unitary Human Beings

The science of unitary human beings is a grand nursing theory developed by Martha E. Rogers. The details of the theory are included in her book, An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing.


According to Rogers, Nursing is both a science and an art. The uniqueness of nursing, like that of any other science, lies in the phenomenon central to its focus. Rogers theorized that nurse's long established concern with the people and the world they live is in a natural forerunner of an organized abstract system encompassing people and their environments. She described the irreducible nature of individuals as being different from the sum of their parts. She theorized that the identity of nursing as a science arises from the integrality of people and the environment that coordinates with a multidimensional universe of open systems. The purpose of nurses, then, is to promote health and wellbeing for all persons. Rogers' model provides the way of viewing the unitary human being. Humans are viewed as integral with the universe: the unitary human being and the environment are one, not dichotomous. Nursing, therefore, focuses on people and the manifestations that emerge from the mutual human/environmental field process. Change of pattern and organization of the human field and the environmental field is propagated by waves, and the manifestations of the field patterning that emerge are observable events. The identification of the pattern provides knowledge and understanding of human experience. The basic characteristics that describe the life process of human include energy field, openness, pattern, and pan-dimensionality. The basic concepts of the theory include unitary human being, environment, and homeodynamic principles.

Concepts of Rogers' model[1]

Energy field

The energy field is the fundamental unit of both the living and nonliving. This energy field "provides a way to perceive people and environment as irreducible wholes". The energy fields continuously varies in intensity, density, and extent.


The human field and the environmental field are constantly exchanging their energy back and forth. There are no boundaries or barriers that inhibit energy flow between the fields.


Pattern is defined as the distinguishing characteristic of an energy field. "Pattern is an abstraction and it gives identity to the field".


Pan-dimensionality is defined as "non linear domain without spatial or temporal attributes". The parameters that humans use in language to describe events are arbitrary. The present is relative; there is no temporal ordering of lives.

Unitary Human Being (person)

A unitary human being is an "irreducible, indivisible, pan-dimensional (four-dimensional) energy field identified by pattern and manifesting characteristics that are specific to the whole and which cannot be predicted from knowledge of the parts" and "a unified whole having its own distinctive characteristics which cannot be perceived by looking at, describing, or summarizing the parts". The person has the capacity to participate knowingly and probabilistically in the process of change..


The environment is an "irreducible, pan-dimensional energy field identified by pattern and integral with the human field". The two fields coexist and are integral. Manifestations emerge from this field and are perceived by the person.


Rogers defined health as an expression of the life process; they are the "characteristics and behavior emerging out of the mutual, simultaneous interaction of the human and environmental fields". Health and illness are the part of the same continuum. The multiple events taking place along life's axis denote the extent to which man is achieving his maximum health potential and vary in their expressions from greatest health to those conditions which are incompatible with maintaining life processes.


Nursing as a science

The theory asserts the independent science of nursing because an organized body of knowledge which is specific to nursing is arrived at by scientific research and logical analysis.

Nursing as an art

Rogers claimed that the creative use of science for the betterment of humans and the creative use of its knowledge is the art of its nursing.

Assumptions about people and nursing

  • Nursing exists to serve people.
  • It is the direct and overriding responsibility to the society.
  • The safe practice of nursing depends on the nature and amount of scientific nursing knowledge the individual brings to practice.
  • People need knowledgeable nursing.

Homeodynamic principles

The principles of homeodynamic postulates the way unitary human beings are perceived. The fundamental unit of the living system is an energy field.


Resonancy is an ordered arrangement of rhythm characterizing both human field and environmental field that undergoes continuous dynamic metamorphosis in the human environmental process.


Helicy describes the unpredictable, but continuous, nonlinear evolution of energy fields as evidenced by non repeating rhythmicties The principle of helicy postulates an ordering of humans' evolutionary emergence.


Integrality is the mutual, continuous relationship of the human energy field and the environmental field. Changes occur by the continuous repatterning of the human and environmental fields by resonance waves. The fields are one and integrated, but unique from each other.

Rogerian theories from the Science of Unitary Human Beings

Theory of paranormal phenomena

This theory focus on the explanations for precognition, déjà vu, clairvoyance, telepathy, and therapeutic touch. Clairvoyance is rational in a four-dimensional human field in continuous mutual, simultaneous interaction with a four-dimensional world; there is no linear time nor any separation of human and the environmental fields.

The theory of accelerating evolution

This theory postulates that evolutionary change is speeding up, and that the range of diversity of life process is widening. Rogers explained that higher wave frequencies are associated with accelerating human development.

Theory of Rhythmicity

This theory focus on the human field rhythms (these rhythms are different from the biological, psychological rhythm). This theory deals with the manifestations of the whole unitary human as changes in human sleep wake patterns, indices of human field motion, perception of time passing, and other rhythmic development.

Other nursing theories derived from the Science of Unitary Human Beings

  • The perspective rhythm model (Patrick)
  • Theory of Health as Expanding Consciousness (Newman)
  • Theory of creativity, actualization and empathy (Alligood)
  • Theory of self-transcendence (Reed)
  • Power as knowing participation in change (Barrett)

See also


  1. ^ Rogers, M. E. (1989). An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis
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