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In Short
Key Concepts
Annotated Bib.


Neuman's model was influenced by a variety of sources, but most particularly:

  • The philosophy of writers such as deChardin
  • Gestalt theory Hans Selye's
  • General Adaptation Syndrome
  • General Systems Theory

Pierre Tielhard deChardin was a Catholic priest and scientist who is credited with first proposing the idea of spiritual evolution. He believed that spiritually, humans are evolving toward an ultimate perfection that he called the Omega Point. He is most often associated with the idea of a mind mesh, the interconnectedness of human spirit and mind, similar to Carl Jung's collective unconscious.

Gestalt Theory is a theory of German origin that centers around the concept of the Gestalt or the whole. It emphasizes the primacy of the phenomenal (the perceived), asserting that the human world of experience is the only immediately given reality. The dynamic interaction of the individual and the situation determines experience and behavior (meaning that no two interactions will ever be the same and we should not simplistically over generalize).

The General Adaptation Syndrome is quite pervasive and even taught to high schoolers in their health class. It postulates that there is a nonspecific response to stress involving three stages: 1) alarm, 2) resistance, 3) exhaustion. In the first stage, the body gears up in preparation to deal with the stressor. In the second stage, the body seeks to return to homeostasis-a resting state. If stressors are not removed, then the body will not return to homeostasis, but will enter the third stage, exhaustion, in which the body function begins to breakdown.

General Systems Theory grew out of the field of Thermodynamics, a branch of physics, chemistry and engineering. Thermodynamics is the study of the flow of energy from one system to another. General systems theory posits that the world is made up of systems that are interconnected and are influenced by each other; systems can also be concentric with smaller systems forming a larger system. Two key assumptions are that energy is needed to maintain a high organizational state and that a dysfunction in one system will affect other systems, particularly if the dysfunctional system is a subsystem of a larger system.

Neumans System's Model, written and presented by Patrick Heyman and Sandra Wolfe, University of Florida, April 2000