Existential Phenomenology and the Practice of Caring

실존적 현상학과 돌봄의 실천

  • Kong, Byung Hye (Department of Nursing, College of Medicine, Chosun University)
  • 공병혜 (조선대학교 의과대학 간호학과)
  • Received : 2012.12.17
  • Accepted : 2013.01.09
  • Published : 2013.01.31


Purpose: This study was done to provide fundamental ontological understanding of caring and inquiring into the possibility of a caring practice in nursing based on existential phenomenology. Methods: According to Heidegger's existential phenomenology, caring has been interpreted as a fundamental ontological basis for caring practice in nursing. Further, based on Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology, the meaning of the lived experience of illness and the way of caring practice have been described from the aspect of the existential involvement in the embodied life world. Results: Heidegger's phenomenology provided ontological thinking about caring, which is understood in a basic way as the possibility of human existence and dwelling in oneself in the confrontation of the illness experience. Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology offered a meaning of human existence according to bodily intention and situated freedom in the life world. This perspective of embodiment enables nurses to understand bodily experiences of patients and recovery of their bodily capacity in responding to the situation in caring practice. Conclusion: Existential phenomenology gives insight into fundamental reflection for caring attitude and practice in nursing. Existential phenomenological nursing research can provide descriptions and meaning of the lived experience of illness and a way of coping with the crisis of human existence in caring practice.


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