Like a Melody It Passes: Dasein and Perinatal Well-being


  • Joan Margaret Humphries University of Victoria




In this paper, the text found in Johannes Brahms’ Wie Melodien Zieht Es (Like a Melody It Passes) serves as a metaphor for selected key ideas that comprise Heidegger’s Being and Time. Heidegger’s conceptualization of Dasein (including Being and Temporality) are examined in the context of the poetry and applied to understandings of maternal emotional well-being. There is potential for increased insight based on analysis of these selected key concepts, which are described and related to the experience of becoming a mother. There is also significance in examining birthing because of current realities involved in Maternity Care, which include  standardized approaches to care. The poetry of Wie Melodien Zieht Es guides the flow of ideas that are outlined during the paper. The need for enhanced authentic interactions between nurses and women in the peri-natal period is exposed, engaging Heideggerian thought as a framework for possible enlightenment.








Author Biography

Joan Margaret Humphries, University of Victoria

School of Nursing (PhD student)

Nurse Educator (Camosun College)



Author, (2011). Breastfeeding promotion. American Journal of Nursing, 111(12), 11-61.

Author, (2012). Unveiling new dimensions: A hermeneutic exploration of
perinatal mood disorder and infant feeding. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 33, 377-386. doi: DOI: 10.3109/01612840.2012.656824

Beck, C. T., & Watson Driscoll, J. (2006). In Beck C. T., Watson Driscoll J. (Eds.), Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (1st ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Bergum, V. (1989). Woman to mother (1st ed.). Granby, Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey Publisher, Inc.

Blattner, W. (2006). Heidegger's being and time (1st ed.). New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Brahms, J.In Kagen S. (Ed.), Wie melodien zieht es (E. Braun, W. Lyman Trans.). New York, NY: International Music Company.

Breastfeeding Committee for Canada. (2011d). Integrated ten steps and WHO code practice outcome indicators for hospitals and community health services: Summary. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from

Caputo, J. D. (1987). Radical hermeneutics. repetition, deconstruction, and the hermeneutic project (1st ed.). United States of America: Indiana.

Dreyfus, H. (1992). Division 1. Being-in-the-world: A commentary on Heidegger's Being and Time (1st ed., pp. 1-9).
Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England: The MIT Press.

Heidegger, M. (2001). Poetry, language, thought (A. Hofstadter Trans.). (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Heidegger, M. (2010 (originally published 1953)). In Schmidt D. (Ed.), Being and Time [Being and Time] (E. Stambagh Trans.). (1st ed.). Albany , New York: State University of New York Press.

Jardine, D. (1998). The fecundity of the individual case: Considerations of the pedagogic heart of interpretive work. In D. Jardine (Ed.), To dwell with a boundless heart: Essays in curricular theory, hermeneutics and ecological imagination (pp. 33-51). New York: Peter Lang.

Jardine, D. (2012). "The memories of childhood have no order and no end"" pedagogical reflections on the occasion of the release, on october 9th 2009, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Journal of Applied Hermeneutics, 1, 1-9.

Nicolson, P. (1998). Post-natal depression: Psychology, science and the transition to motherhood (1st ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Paley, J. (1998). Misinterpretive phenomenlogy: Heidegger, ontology and nursing research. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 27, 817-824.

Sadeh-Mestechkin, D., WalWsch, A., Zeadna, A., Ilana Shoham, V., & Hallak, M. (2007). Early post partum discharge: Is it possible? Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 276, 65-70. doi:10.1007/s00404-006-0296-y

Thompson, J., Roberts, C., & Ellwood, D. (2011). Emotional and physical health outcomes after significant primary post-partum haemorrhage (PPH): A multicentre cohort study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gyneacology, 51(4), 365-371.

White, T. (2006). Postnatal depression and post-traumatic stress after childbirth: Prevalence, course and co-occurrence . Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 24(2), 107. doi: 10.1080/02646830600643874

Wolf, J. B. (2011). Is breast best? (1st ed.). United States of America: New York University Press.

Wynn, F. (2002). The early relationship of mother and pre-infant: Merleau-ponty and pregnancy. Nursing Philosophy, 3, 4-14.