Self Transcendence in Nursing Theory Essay


Pamela Reed developed the self-transcendence theory to understand how the environment, among other factors, affect individuals. The theory states that human beings need to have some expansions of their self-conceptual boundaries in different dimensions. The boundaries can occur inwardly through some introspective experiences, outwardly through reaching out to other people, and temporally through integrating the past and the future into the present.

Self Transcendence in Nursing Theory Essay

The transcendent theory also states that people can be seen as open systems since they can take in new information and change. When humans expand their boundaries, they create more room for interactions with other people and the environment. As a result, this leads to a person feeling whole more than they were before the expansions. The theory of self-transcendence is critical, especially when an individual experiences loss or suffers some life-limiting illness.

The theory, therefore, helps to facilitate the well-being of the person during difficult health-related experiences. It is important to note that self-transcendence applies to people of all ages, healthy and ill persons. Understanding the significant concepts of the theory will help in analyzing the theory in detail. Also, exploring the significant inter-relationships among the identified concepts will help understand the theory’s application in nursing.

Major Concepts of Self-Transcendence Theory

There are three major concepts of the self-transcendence theory, namely, vulnerability, self-transcendence and well-being.


The first concept is vulnerability. According to Fiske (2019 Self Transcendence in Nursing Theory Essay), vulnerability reflects on the individual’s consciousness of personal mortality. One becomes conscious of the later period of their adulthood or when they near the end of life. When a person faces a difficult life situation, their perception of mortality is synergized. The way a person will respond to this will impact how the development progress will be.

The nurse is supposed to guide such a person into exploiting different leads to positive expansion of the person’s inner boundaries. Self-transcendence helps one to widen the mindfulness of their mortality situation. As a result, one can account for other life experiences that they have faced in life. Such incidents include disability, chronic conditions, childbearing, and even parenting.

The concept of vulnerability helps one realize the situations that will change their well-being (Abu et al., 2020). As a result, it becomes easy to adapt to these changes and the new environment.  Vulnerability, therefore, promotes the well-being of a person, especially when they face life-changing experiences like the ones discussed above. If one becomes conscious of their mortality, they can make good decisions that will help them live a longer and healthier life.


The second concept of the self-transcendence theory in nursing is self-transcendence. Self-transcendence helps to show the changes that will change a person’s perspective of the self and the world (Yaden et al., 2017). The self-transcendent concept guides one into expanding their viewpoint. The changes are both inwards and outwards. The outward changes extend to the environment and the other people who are related to the person.

On the other hand, the inward changes extend to a person’s beliefs, values, and self-awareness, integrate experiences and temporal experiences (Fiske, 2019). All the changes help the person to improve their present for a better future. In nursing, the health workers who have high levels of self-transcendence are more dedicated to their work than those who have lower transcendence levels. When one has high transcendence levels, they know how to interact with oneself, the environment, and other people.

The self-transcendent concept is essential as it guides a person into being the best that they could be. When one becomes self-transcendent, one can control both the inward and outward factors that affect their lives. Following this, one becomes the best, focusing on the positive aspects and dealing with the negative factors. The concept of self-transcendent, therefore, guides a person into becoming a better self.


The third concept is the general well-being of a person. According to Reed (2018), the idea of well-being is the sense of being generally healthy. The more a person advances in age, the more prone they become to being unhealthy. Some of the things that contribute to one being unhealthy is stress and frailness as one becomes older. The concept of well-being helps one to become satisfied with their current state. If one is not happy since they are unhealthy, they must make the necessary changes to have better life experiences.

It is important to note that the concept of well-being varies from one individual to the other. The differences are influenced by how a person interacts with other people, the environment, cultural diversity, religion, and complexities in living (Fiske, 2019). If a person has no good relationships with these factors, they will become stressed, resulting in poor health conditions. Therefore, as a person becomes older, they must maintain a positive relationship with all these factors for their well-being to be perfect.

Key Empirical Indicators

One of the vital empirical indicators of the self-transcendent theory in nursing is that older adults have a higher transcendence than younger people. According to Reed (2018), older individuals or those nearing the end of their lives will have higher self-transcendent since they already know the triggers that affect them positively and negatively. As a result, it becomes easy for older adults to avoid such triggers since they are more vulnerable. On the other hand, young people are still growing and realizing their vulnerabilities.

The world health organization defines older people as 65 and above (Haugan et al., 2021). Older adults face the dangers of suffering from chronic conditions and other health conditions emanating from their young lifestyles. According to Haugan et al. (2021), the concept of self-transcendence helps nurses understand older people and facilitate their well-being and health. Healthcare professions are consequently able to come up with new approaches to promoting health care. The new guidelines help to support older people and maintain their well-being and good health. As a result, it becomes easier for them to protect their well-being than the younger people or those not nearing their death.

Major Interrelations among the Major Concepts in the Theory

The three concepts are interrelated, and they work together to produce a healthy person. If a person has increased awareness of their vulnerabilities or any mortality triggers, it will be easy to control the triggers and gain control of their inner strengths (Haugan et al., 2021 Self Transcendence in Nursing Theory Essay). Being aware of the triggers helps in nurse-patient interactions since the nurse will guide the patient on avoiding these triggers and focusing on their well-being.

If one controls the negative triggers, their well-being becomes better even as their age advances with time. The self-transcendence concept influences the well-being of a person directly. High self-transcendence levels guide one into being the best they can be by eliminating all factors that might make them unhealthy. Also, it becomes easy to focus on their well-being since they already know the factors that might affect their well-being, hence avoid such factors.

In addition, self-transcendence is a good resource of well-being when one is experiencing an increased vulnerability. In such cases, self-transcendence helps one mediate between vulnerability and well-being; hence they can quickly transform loss into growth (Reed, 2018). These three concepts are highly related, and they work together. The more one becomes self-transcendence, the easier it becomes to deal with factors that increase their vulnerability. As a result, their well-being is protected, and they can have a better and more fulfilling life.


The self-transcendence theory in nursing was developed to understand how people adapt to environmental and personal changes. The approach cuts across a person’s life span regarding coping with different life experiences. The three concepts of self-transcendence theory help provide a good framework for promoting the general well-being of a person. From the above analysis, it is evident that the three concepts are interrelated and largely focus on creating healthy individuals capable of handling vulnerabilities that might negatively affect them.

Therefore, the relationship between well-being, self-transcendence and vulnerability is modified by personal traits and the environment. Nurses use self-transcendent theory to guide their patients into becoming better. The more one becomes highly transcendent, the more they get to know themselves and work towards becoming better and healthier. Besides, it becomes easy to promote better patient care through self-transcendent theory. Nurses who have high levels of self-transcendence will effectively deal with older adults and guide them towards healthy living, their conditions and situations notwithstanding.