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Beyond prescriptions! Enacting love: A hermeneutic exploration of the dynamic co-emergence of Self and Other in relationship Open Access

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The purpose of this research is to explore the dynamic, co-emerging process of how Self and Other relate in meaningful ways. The essence of this study exists in the "between" of two living systems--doctor and patient--who co-exist in ways that create a single, larger living system. Utilizing the enactive approach and hermeneutic phenomenology, this study illuminates the intersubjective human experience of relating by understanding not only the lived experience of meaningful doctor-patient relationships, but also the meaning given to the experience by the co-researchers. This study includes seven doctor-patient dyads from a variety of health specialties. Data collection and analysis involve video and audio-recorded interviews (i.e., joint doctor-patient interviews, individual doctor interviews, and individual patient interviews), observation, follow-up clarifications, supporting materials, and interpretation verification. Two major themes emerge in data analysis and interpretation. Relating in meaningful ways involves both substance and process with each having several subthemes. In synthesizing all of the themes, major findings emerge about meaningful doctor-patient relationships. The co-researchers describe the experience of relating with the Other as loving, where both doctor and patient experience a sense of wholeness and well-Being. A visual model is presented as a means to visualize the process of Enacting Loving Relationships.Theoretical, empirical, and practical implications from this study include the need to: (a) expand the understanding of doctor-patient relationships to include love; (b) further the scholarly dialogue bridging first-hand experience and second-person observation with the science of cognition; (c) re-vision and re-form medical training; (d) conduct additional research on enacting loving relationships utilizing the enactive approach coupled with hermeneutic phenomenology; (e) explore the language and emotions of relating in meaningful ways; and (f) research whether the Enacting Loving Relationships model offers insights into other relationships with power differentials.

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