Purdue University Calumet
Love: A Concept Analysis
When one considers the concept of love, one could contemplate whether love is a feeling or an action. I believe that love is both. Although the term ‘love’ is freely used in everyday language, literature, arts and media, the concept itself is elusive and not easily defined. With current changes in nursing and healthcare focusing on evidence-based practice, we still need to remain focused on the importance of the caring/love relationship in everyday practice. The aim of this paper is to explore the concept of love and the way it plays a key role in nursing.
According to Thomas Merton (Stone & Hart, 2002) “Love is an emotional state that is typically directed at another person; it inspires intentional acts of sympathy toward others in order to promote well-being” In another article by Stickley & Freshwater (Stickley & Freshwater ( 2002), they state that “love can inspire, unite, and also breaker barriers. Love is both the heart and unifying force for caring, and in light of this; love may be viewed as the basic core of alleviation of suffering”. Experiences of love seem to affect a person immediately and influence their personality in a way that contributes to human development or change.
The language of love is known throughout the world in every nation. The ancient Greeks even define love in different ways. Felix Neo (2010) defines, “Eros (passionate love), Ludus (game-playing love), Pragma (practical love), Mania (possessive, dependent love), and the most important of the Greek forms of love is Agape (selfless love), is simply a self-sacrificing love for humanity which makes it possible to carry out holistic caring; It drives us away from self-absorption and towards the embrace of genuine desire; a genuine desire is one which, when fulfilled, promotes not only our good but the good of others”. This is love in action. Love can be described in many ways such as in the love a mother and father for their child, the love between husband and wife, and the love between brothers and sisters. Love can be communicated by words (sincere praise and encouragement), body language (how you feel inside and attitude you convey) or actions (a simple touch or hug).
A review of three dictionaries, (Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus, Encarta World English Dictionary and Thesaurus, and the Free Dictionary) have all defined the term “love” as noun (feeling), and a verb (action): To care for, concern, devoted to, understanding, compassion, tenderness, affection, be attracted to someone in an emotional way, a strong feeling that can be directed to ourselves and others, to like something very much, unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another. An article written by Arman and Rehnsfeldt (2006) shows that from current nursing/caring science as well as from ethical and philosophical perspectives how love can be visible in caring through virtue and that the art of caring creates its evidence. They further explain that in a clinical/empirical view, love in nursing in Western healthcare systems means going beyond one’s duty. There is a limit to the level of care, including a minimum of true caring that may be perceived as their duty to offer. Love in nursing implies that the carer “goes beyond” these limits of the nurse’s role. To go beyond these limits means to give more of oneself, to do things one is not asked for or not paid for, and to do this with an attitude of pleasure, aiming to do good. From the nurse this demands competence, motivation, and a moral integrity, including a will to act in accordance with deeper motives and to take the other’s (the patient’s) situation and view it seriously. They conclude that love, if viewed only as a phenomenon without connection to a universal or ontological philosophy, risks being a problematic concept for caring science. If, on the other hand, it is viewed as the ontological basis for