Nurse theorists have commented on the mind-body issue. Neuman (1996) described the mind and body as manifestations of some larger reality. One does not cause or control the other. Some of the participants in this study struggle with mind over matter and felt disconnected while this struggle was occurring. Other nurse theorists such as Rogers (2001), Fitzpatrick (1999) and Parse (2001) defined man as an irreducible whole with mind-body dualism being non-existent.
Participants felt disconnected but their preferred state was having a sense of wholeness. Holistic medicine is one of the few spheres of medicine that use in the word healing in a broader sense that wound healing (Otto & Knight, 2001). Traditional medicine tends to focus on a specific disease while holistic medicine attempts to examine whole people in the context of their environment. Participants tended to describe their healing holistically. They rarely discussed the incision and physical aspects of recovery were minimized.
Healing was seen as a much more complex relationship between physical, emotional, spiritual, interpersonal, personality and environmental aspects. Being “out of balance” was uncomfortable and thus returning to a state of wholeness or balance seemed important to all of the participants. The balance between pushing oneself too hard and not doing enough was an issue for the most participants. In the researcher’s clinical experience this is often a necessary adjustment after recovery from many emotional or physical difficulties.
What is normally automatic cannot be relied upon as such since normal functioning is impaired. Fatigue indicates that it is time to slow down or stop but if one gives in to the fatigue some individuals fear improvement might be slowed. However, if one pushes too far despite the fatigue, a setback can occur that may last for days. It is often difficult for anyone too much or too little, so one’s internal awareness is important. Underwood (2001) in refining the self-care model proposed five basic universal self-care needs.
Two of these needs included issues of balance, that is, balance solitude and social interaction and, similar to the issue of overdoing and underdoing, a balance between activity and rest. Moch (1998) objected to the necessity of always helping people gain control when in fact acceptance of the “control/uncontrol balance” may be a more useful objective. With this acceptance it is easier to asses how much control is realistic and what control is not attainable at a given point. Almost all the participants in this study accepted their lack of control and lack of independence during their hospitalization.
In general, participants did not like the reduction in control or independence but they found it inevitable. Early dependence was tolerable but acceptance on this dependence was time-limited. Perhaps this lack of acceptance is essential in the initial phase of regaining the control. Recognition of both the need to regain control and the tendency to overdo could enhance the process of achieving balance. Achieving balance has some theoretical and philosophical support but no research was found that clearly related to this process.