Martha Rogers and One Hundred Years of Solitude where black and white ends and purple begins.
Abstract: Transcending the confines of the purely physical, Rogerian theory elevates the possibilities of nursing practice. By its inclusion of that which cannot be explained empirically and allowing for the possibility of the miraculous, a deeper truth is revealed. In the same way, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's literary style of Magical Realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude poignantly reveals truth through the seamless blending of the miraculous and the ordinary.

Key Words: Rogers, unitary nursing science, magical realism
Article Type: Report
Subject: Nursing (Personal narratives)
Author: St. Lawrence, Meghan J.
Pub Date: 01/01/2011
Publication: Name: Visions: The Journal of Rogerian Nursing Science Publisher: Society of Rogerian Scholars Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Society of Rogerian Scholars ISSN: 1072-4532
Issue: Date: Jan, 2011 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 1
Persons: Named Person: Lawrence, Meghan J. St.
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 272167869
Full Text: I have never been very interested in the "black and white" aspects of life. The concrete has never appealed to me; the ethereal and the abstract have always seemed somehow more true than the literal. Perhaps that is how I ended up in a job where healing is intangible, and improvement can rarely be reflected in lab values. I work in a children's psychiatric hospital, and success is often most clearly reflected in a smile that comes readily where it was once reluctant, or by the ability to open up when difficult questions are asked rather than to shut down. The medical model leaves much to be desired in my line of nursing, and Martha Roger's (1992) view of nursing, and of the world, left me enchanted. The causality so inherent in traditional ideologies depicts healing as a struggle; each patient seems to be battling in an individual effort to overturn the "natural" order with no connection to anything beyond these personal struggles. Rogers illuminates our interconnectedness and allows the miraculous to actually be commonplace, revealing a deeper reality than the physical alone can express. The literary genre of Magical Realism exemplified by One Hundred Years of Solitude (Marquez, 1967/2006) similarly touches upon the metaphysical elements of humanity, describing the miraculous and the ordinary with no distinction between the two, and in so doing, poignantly expressing truth as it feels.

The Rogerian model is essential to the development of nursing practice in our increasingly complex world; her theory expands the very concept of what it is to be human, and how nursing practice can be enhanced based on this expanded perspective. In our world of ever increasing speed and diversity, nurses need creative solutions. Healing modalities that are difficult to explain or quantify (such as meditation and therapeutic touch) are gaining reluctant acceptance as evidence continues to show that they work. As Rogers (1992) states, "There are lots of things that we do not understand but which, nonetheless, have documented evidence that something goes on..." (p. 34). There is something to human existence that extends deeper than the medical model will allow, something that extends beyond the physical and concrete.

Rogers (1992) identifies four postulates that accommodate this extension: energy fields, openness, pattern, and pandimensionality. Her vision of unitary human beings provides a framework for looking at people and their environment as not just a sum of parts, but as irreducible wholes, each part inseparable from the other (Rogers, 1992). This broadened vision of humanity allows for the exploration of new modalities and new ways for nurses to enhance health and well-being using methods that stretch our conception of the possible, past that which can be explained physically. As Rogers (1992) writes, "What may be quite valid in describing biological phenomena does not describe unitary human beings, any more than describing a molecule tells you about laughter" (p. 30). Evolving healing modalities utilize the vast expanse of our unitary selves that is left out when only the molecules are given consideration.

Under a Rogerian lens, a research study was recently conducted exploring garden walking as a healing modality for individuals who are depressed (Hanson, McCaffrey, & McCaffrey, 2010). The study was designed using garden walking followed by reflective journaling to change pattern manifestation through enhanced perception of integrality in a sample of forty adults diagnosed with depression. Assessment scales measuring depression showed a significant reduction in depression following a six month period of regular garden walks (Hanson, McCaffrey, & McCaffrey, 2010). The authors note that "reflective writings often identified human patterns and pattern changes on the basis of the connectedness of the participant to the garden. Beauty, peacefulness, a sense of the wholeness of the world, and a sense of being a small part of a larger whole were examples of patterns identified and changed" (Hanson et al., 2010, p. 258). The difficulty we have describing in words or quantifying in numbers exactly how this type of healing takes place does not alter the truth that healing is, in fact, happening. If we as nurses are to act as patient advocates, our uncertainty of what we feel but cannot explain should never stand in the way of providing care.

Just as Martha Rogers' work has redefined the possible in nursing, Magical Realism has redefined what the impossible can reveal about reality in literature. As author Daniela Giosefi explains, Magical Realism "contains surreal or fantastical elements that happen within a realistic setting or circumstance. Magical events happen that represent an emotional truth. Properties of the fantastic and realistic are blended into one" (as cited in Corso, 2007, p. 21). In this way, the writing is not bound by observable reality. Through the blending of the fantastic and the realistic, that which is felt intrinsically, (easily felt but hesitantly believed) is expressed, often defying the confines of the physical.

The Nobel prize-winning One Hundred Years of Solitude (Marquez, 1967/2006) is the embodiment of this style, interweaving the miraculous and the mundane to tell the story of the Macondo family. The fantastical picks up where reality ends and feeling takes over, creating a poetic fantasy that feels more real than reality. The beauty and simplicity of the writing lies in the recognition of the void that is left in reality alone. Marquez uses magical depictions to fill this void. In One Hundred Years of Solitude a narrative is created that is more real because of its fantasy, in its inclusion of the ethereal to speak in a language our souls understand but our minds often do not.

Love and hate, war and peace, innocence and corruption are all encompassed throughout the novel. Remedios the Beauty is a child of simple purity, and her exit from Macondo foreshadows the village's peace coming to an end. Marquez (1967/2006) writes:

The tragedy of innocence lost is illustrated using fantasy to transcend reality, and ultimately reveals truth.

Through Rogerian theory, nursing practice is unfettered by the inclusion of possibilities that transcend the empirical. In the same way, One Hundred Years of Solitude has affected readers worldwide through its blending of reality and fantasy, using fantasy to describe what we feel but cannot explain in the framework of the physical realm. Seeing ourselves as unitary human beings allows for the enhancement of a whole self, incorporating the intangible with the tangible, creating a depth of self and a connection to the cosmos we feel but cannot touch, creating boundless possibilities for improved nursing practice. In Rogers (1994) own words, "I think very often we're accustomed to wanting to put everything into a kind of reality that we can pick up. The science of unitary human beings provides the knowledge for imaginative and creative promotion of the well-being of all people" (p. 35).


Corso, P. (2007). Does your fiction need to be stretched?: Five authors describe the magic of magical realism in expressing emotional truths. Writer, 120(10), 19-23. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete Database.

Hanson, C., McCaffrey, H., & McCaffrey, R. (2010). Garden walking for depression: a research report. Holistic Nursing Practice, (24)5, 252-259. Retrieved from the CINAHL database.

Marquez, G. G. (2006). One Hundred Years of Solitude. (Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., trans.). New York: HarperCollins Publishers. (Original work published 1967).

Rogers, M.E. (1992). Nursing science and the space age. Nursing Science Quarterly (5)1, 27-34. doi: 10.1177/089431849200500108

Rogers, M. E. (1994). The science of unitary human beings: current perspectives. Nursing Science Quarterly (7)1, 33-35. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete Database.

Meghan J. St. Lawrence, RN, BAN

Four Winds Hospital, Katonah, NY
She watched
   Remedios the Beauty
   waving goodbye in the
   midst of the flapping
   sheets that rose up
   with her, abandoning
   with her the
   environment of beetles
   and dahlias passing
   through the air with her
   as four o'clock in the
   afternoon came to an
   end, and they were lost
   forever with her in the
   upper atmosphere
   where not even the
   highest-flying birds of
   memory could reach
   her (p. 236).
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