In 1970, Dr Martha E. Rogers published An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing where she presented her theory on the Science of Unitary Human Beings. Her concepts were derived from the view that the universe is a collection of open systems within which we interact independently and continuously without causality.
Terms and Definitions
Energy Field: the functional unit of the living. Field is a unifying concept. Energy fields are infinite.
Pattern: The distinguishing Characteristic of an Energy field perceived as a single wave.
Pan-dimensional: A non-linear domain without spatial or temporal attributes.
Conceptual System: An abstraction. A representation of the universe or some portion thereof.
Unitary Human Being (human field): an irreducible, pan-dimensional energy field identifiable by pattern and manifesting characteristics that are specific to the whole and that cannot be predicted from the knowledge of the parts.
Environment (environmental field): An irreducible, pan-dimensional energy field identified by pattern and integral with the human field.
Rogers’ Assumptions About Human Beings
The Human Being is a unified whole possessing an individual integrity and manifesting characteristics that are more than and different from the whole.
The Human Being is visible only when the particulars disappear from view.
The life process of human beings evolves irreversibly and unidirectionally along a space time continuum.
The human being is characterized by the capacity for abstraction and imagery, language and thought, sensation and emotion.
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
~ Albert Einstein
Major Concepts in Rogerian Theory
1. Energy Field constitutes the fundamental unit of the living and the inanimate. The energy field is infinite. Rogers discusses two in particular. The first is the human field. Human beings do not have an energy field but rather they are energy fields. The environment is also an energy field. Neither field can be reduced any further.
2. Universe of Open System indicates energy fields are infinite and continuously open. The human and environmental systems are integrated with each other.
3. Pattern identifies the energy field. Is distinguishing and characteristic of a field and is perceived as a single wave. The pattern changes continuously and innovatively. Each human pattern is unique and is integrated with its own unique environmental field. The evolution of the unitary human being is a dynamic, irreducible, non-linear process characterized by increasing diversity of energy field patterning.
Principles of Homeodynamics
Changes in the life process in human beings are predicted to be inseparable from environmental changes and to reflect the mutual and simultaneous interaction between the two at any point space-time. Changes are irreversible, nonrepeatable. They are rhythmical in nature and evidence growing complexity of pattern and organization. Change proceeds by the continuous repatterning of both human beings and environment by resonating waves.
The principles are listed as follows:
Principle of Resonancy:
The continuous change from lower to higher frequency wave patterns in human and environmental fields.
Principle of Helicy:
The continuous innovative, unpredictable, increasing diversity of human and environmental field patterns.
Principle of Integrality:
The continuous mutual human field and environmental field process.
Indices derived from the homeodynamic principles
These components or variables are used to describe the totality of the human system. They are not mutually exclusive.
Pattern and Organization refers to the totality of constituents and characteristics that make up a given system in a specific arrangement and binding of energy. Pattern and organization give unique identity and wholeness to the human system and the environment at any given interval of space-time. Patterning of the individual and the environment occur simultaneously as a manifestation of the mutual process. This index refers to what makes individuals identifiably unique and different from their neighbours.
Structure and Function may be perceived as the processes of the system that are in dynamic change. Structures involve “slow processes of long duration” (e.g., development of the skeletal or neurological system); functions that are “quick processes of short duration” (e.g., physiological processes; movements of body parts).
Energy refers to the fields that make up the human system and the environment, which vary in intensity, density, and distribution. One must look at the channelling of the energy flow; how energy is distributed within and between systems; to what degree energy is “bound” or “free”. “Free” energy is that which is available to the person, family or group to carry out its function. “Bound” energy is analogous to “potential energy” which is temporarily “tied up” in pain, anxiety, busyness, crisis, depression, or such.
Rhythms refer to the wave phenomena which characterize the fluctuating universe and are reflected in rhythmic patterns of the human system. Waves vary in length, frequency, and amplitude. The energy is proportional to the wave frequency, such that the longer the wave length, the lower the energy, and the shorter the wave length, the higher the energy. The flow of energy through the life process is unidirectional, non-linear, and continuous
Field Interactions refer to the energy exchanges between human and environmental fields.
Space-Time Dimensions are essential components of each other; i.e., they exist simultaneously and are reflective of our perceptions of the world. In reality, the Universe is pan-dimensional, non-linear, and without spatial or temporal attributes. “Space” refers to the distance or expanse extending without limit in all directions; “time” refers to the period between events. In our human perception, individuals exist within and move through space-time dimensions. Human beings have the ability to transcend space-time binding through abstractions, thought processes, creativity, imagery, meditation, and fantasy.
Boundaries are essential elements of all systems. They are permeable continually fluctuating parameters of the energy fields characteristic of open systems. Boundaries distinguish systems from one another but are not essentially defined by spatial or physical dimensions. The boundaries of the human field are co-extensive with the boundaries of the environment and are in a constant state of flux. The forces within the human and environmental fields and the interactions between the two fields determine the dimensions of the human boundaries and the degree of system integrity. Amidst constant changes within and between systems, the human person strives to maintain system integrity through the process of self-regulation.
My experiences with Rogerian Theory
I first encountered Martha Roger’s Science of Unitary Human Beings when I was attending Washburn University’s School of Nursing in Topeka, Kansas. The Dean of the School of Nursing had obtained her doctorate at New York University under Dr Rogers and started the school of nursing at Washburn University.
Much of the information I have given here has been taken from a monograph I have on the subject, “Examining the Cultural Implications of Martha E. Roger’s Science of Unitary Human Beings” Wood-Kekahbah Associates, Lecompton, Kansas.
It was through this knowledge that I gained an understanding of how and why energy healing works. It is also through my understanding of Roger’s Science of Unitary Man that I can understand and accept how various methods of energy healing work.
If all things are energy and all things are connected, then of course they will work!
Who was Martha Rogers?
Martha E Rogers was born on the 12th of May, 1914 in Texas, USA. She attended the University of Tennessee but was discouraged from entering the pre-med program to become a doctor so transferred to Knoxville General Hospital where she graduated with a diploma in nursing. One year later she obtained a Bachelor of Science from Peabody University. She earned her MA in Public Health Nursing Supervision from Teachers College, Columbia University. Johns Hopkins awarded her a Master in Public Health and in 1954 she earned her ScD.
In 1954 she became Professor and Head on the Division of Nurse Education at New York University. She held that position until 1975 and in 1979 was made Professor Emeriti of New York University.
She published over 200 articles and wrote several books. She set up the public visiting nurse program in Phoenix, Arizona and lectured in almost every US State as well as many other countries.
She continued to lecture extensively until her death in 1994.