Relational care: learning to look beyond intentionality to the 'non-intentional' in a caring relationship.
ABSTRACT This paper considers the implications for nursing practice of what the continental philosopher Emmanuel Levinas described as the 'non-intentional'. The place of the non-intentional emerges from a critique of Buber's conception of the 'I-Thou' and the 'I-It' relations, and is revealed to a person in the moments prior to the grasping of conscious understanding. A specific incident that took place between a nurse and a person diagnosed with dementia is described and then used to illustrate an exploration of the 'I-Thou' relation and then the non-intentional. The nurse practitioner's pre-understandings of the term dementia are shown to have hindered the emergence of an 'I-Thou' relation and the possibility of a non-intentional glimpse of the otherness of the other. It is suggested here that the plausible associations that become synonymous with a diagnosis like dementia detract from attentiveness to another 'person'. The more tangible an understanding of another person becomes, the less likely it is that a person can really experience the other as separate to their perception of them. The implications for practitioner education and learning in relation to the non-intentional are considered, in particular the need to reflect on the immediacy of the feelings experienced in a relationship. The non-intentional highlights how 'I', as a nurse practitioner, can exclude the other by imposing an understanding on what is seen and experienced in relation to another person. The 'I' prioritizes intentional understanding and so obscures the importance of the spontaneous response to the tear in the eye of the other, which is the basis for Levinas's conception of the non-intentional. The spontaneity of the non-intentional is what Levinas believed confirmed the separateness and autonomy of the other and consequently should be the basis for a therapeutic nursing relationship with a patient.
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ABSTRACT: Abstract The discipline of nursing is still struggling with the differences that need to be clearly defined between the notions of care and nursing care. To be able to clarify this distinction, agreement must first be reached on the meaning of care itself. The present article proposes a conception of care in light of the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas (1906–1995). This philosopher’s thought throws considerable light on the ontology of care, thanks especially to his focus on the deeper implications of human encounter. A profound sense of responsibility towards the other enables Levinas to bring out such dimensions of the concept of care as the relation involved, the feeling of affection, and the interventions. We examine here what these entail regarding nursing care.Nursing Philosophy 09/2006; 7(4):225 - 234. · 0.88 Impact Factor