Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Type: Theses
Title: The development of a theory of life-environment disruption to account for the phenomenon of premature morbidities and mortalities associated with a radical change in a person’s living environment
Author: Richards, Stephen John
Issue Date: 2018
School/Discipline: The Joanna Briggs Institute
Abstract: The thesis originates in an unresolved phenomenon associated with moving into a nursing home and concerns the reports of emotional distress, depression and increased risk of morbidity and mortality associated with the move; shedding-life is used to capture the broad character of this phenomenon. Shedding-life has been the subject of scientific inquiry for seventy years and yet the phenomenon is still not understood and, possibly because of this, there appears to be no generally accepted approaches to ameliorate this harm. This thesis inquiries into the genesis of shedding life and presents a theory to account for it. The failure of existing research to account for shedding-life indicated an alternative approach was required. As shedding-life arises in the context of a significant change in a person’s living-environment it was surmised that the phenomenon involves the relationship between the person and the changing environment in which they live. Based on this, the approach taken was to use the philosophical research of Martin Heidegger concerning the structural relationship between the person and their living environment, an approach not previously explored. Heidegger’s research, undertaken within the empiricist tradition, identifies and describes the structural processes by which the person is both constituted by its formative socio-cultural environment and bound to it as the locus and source of its ongoing existence. This means that who the individual human person becomes is both contingent and dependent upon the living environment into which it is born and raised, where the concept of living environment is understood in terms of possibilities for a meaningful life. On this account if a person’s access to their living environment is materially disrupted they are at risk of experiencing a decline in the meaningfulness of their existence. As this is a naturalistic account, founded on the biological processes of the body, the loss of an appropriate living environment is reflected in psychological distress which in turn is frequently manifested in bodily morbidities; this is the basis of shedding life, a structural rather than a psychological phenomenon. This contingent account of the person is in stark contrast to the materialist approach that posits the person as essentially the biological body, independent of its environment. The materialist view informs the design and running of nursing homes resulting in a significant disruption to a person’s life-environment contributing to rather than ameliorating shedding-life, as such nursing homes are iatrogenic, i.e. cause harm. Left unaddressed nursing home environments will continue to cause harm and fail to assist older people live a meaningful life in their remaining years. While the thesis commenced from a concern about nursing homes, the phenomenon of shedding-life is a much broader phenomenon. The Theory of Life- Environment Disruption, derived from the structure of being a person, provides an account of shedding-life by identifying the essential relationship between the person and their life-environment. The theory predicts that whenever there is a material disruption to a person’s life-environment they are at risk of shedding life and as such the theory has broad applicability for human affairs more generally
Advisor: Pearson, Alan
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, The Joanna Briggs Institute, 2018
Keywords: Life-environment disruption
relocation stress
premature morbidity
premature mortality
nursing home
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Richards2018_PhD.pdf6.15 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.