Plain Talk: The Perspectival Well-Being Model is a simple way to understand how virtue, self, and others is bound up in how we think of health, illness, and how nurses help people heal.
Ideas have a way of morphing, reshaping, and evolving until they reach a good fit with our frame of reference. What started out as the Perspectival Worldview Model years ago has now reached an apex in my thoughts. Through my research on health, altruism, and well-being, and my work with African orphans, I am now narrowing the model to how we understand health as well-being. The fit is better than it was when it was centered on worldview. It thrills me that it so aptly describes the general links between moral understandings, self, and relationships with others, including the settings in which we live.
The Perspectival Well-Being Model provides a conceptual framework for the how, where, and why of the way we think about health. It is what I would call an ‘epistemic‘ (knowledge) framework because it informs us of how we think about health, and what dimensions give rise to our definitions of health. It is an ‘ontologic‘ (the nature of what is) framework because it presumes humans as innately moral-minded, self-preserving, in need of purpose, and in relationship with others. It is an ‘axiologic’ (the study of values) framework because morals inform and color all of life’s moments.
Health, in this model, would be defined as the conditions within each perspective that optimize our expression of ourselves as we live a life a purpose that is grounded in living for the good of humanity. Ultimately, this would be perfection in all perspectives (morals, self, others/environment) because that would be the milieu for perfect health. In real life, though, alterations and adjustments occur constantly in every perspective through our daily activities, and health occurs as we move closer to the ideal.
When an ideal of health is conceptualized as the convergence of our self, ideal virtues, and right relationships, then health is no longer merely about a body that needs fixed, a mind that needs medicated, or improving living conditions. Nursing is about restoration, but in so many cases, we don’t want people’s health to be merely restored to a former state, but to move towards the ideal. As I said in the post prior to this one, that necessarily relies on a sense of rightness, of virtuous acts to move them closer to the ideal. All good work in the world is done to move people to a better state and that good work is contingent on antecedent ideals of perfection.
The Perspectival Well-Being Model goes beyond traditional health models in 3 important ways:
- It does not distinguish or divide between mind-body-spirit of persons.
- It does not distinguish or divide between biological-psychological-social-spiritual models of persons.
- The model is capable of epistemic, ontologic, and axiologic congruity. There is no disconnect between what it means to be human, what it means to be healthy, or what it means to be virtuous.
- It implies the role of all people in contributing to the well-being of their fellow man by being the right person.
- Each perspective (virtue, self, and others) is a full perspective of the other two perspectives.