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Mark Lazenby

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date: 02 March 2021

Virginia Henderson’s classic definition of nursing, known as the unique function of the nurse, trades on the nurse imagining what patients would do for themselves to restore or promote health or to lead to a peaceful death, if they had the will, knowledge, or power. Nursing imagination involves sympathy, the feeling of caring for the humanity shared with another. In this way, imagination involves the kind of relationship Carol Gilligan calls the responsible relationship: nurses respond to the humanity of their patients through nursing imagination. Insofar as humanity is common, this imaginative exercise leads nurses to imagine the kind of human they want to be and the kind of society they want for all. The habit of imagination gives nurses the capacity to be touched by the circumstances of others, which is another aspect of the ethical significance of nursing.

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