Spirituality in nursing: patients who are occultists

Using hermeneutics, the holism of the person in the patient is what the hermeneutically-aware nurse has in mind in the care (Pflege) that she provides – nursing care being one form of existential care (Sorge) highlighted by Heidegger in Being and time as the determination of Dasein‘s temporal thrownness (Geworfenheit) in being-in-the-world (In-der-Welt-sein). Sorge being primordial to Pflege, it is not surprising that when it comes to the wholeness of a patient under her care (Pflege), especially in the case of palliative care where something very personal such as the spirituality of the patient in his or her nearness to death becomes the main question of being (Seinsfrage) in palliative hermeneutics, the phenomenological interplay between the hidden and the unconcealed comes to the fore of the mutual experience of the nurse and the patient. 

This hermeneutic situation is particularly challenging when a patient is an occultist who does not follow any of the mainstream religions represented in hospital chaplaincy. Given the highly personal nature of death – Heidegger describes death as the true individuation of Dasein in Being and time, integral to the authenticity (Eigentlichkeit) of its being -, it behoves nurses to understand and appreciate alternative spirituality such as occultism. The occult, in essence, is the hidden, and challenges the assumption of aletheia in our everyday comportment to the world. The occultist believes that he or she lives with hidden forces that can be controlled to a certain extent through magic, which, apart from its arcane knowledge and practice, also places great emphasis on the will power of its practitioner. 


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