The theoretical underpinnings of patient-perspective care
While concepts such as self-determination and empowerment are familiar to many health professionals, the reasons why these concepts are so fundamental might not be so easily recognised. In this chapter, a rigorous and robust scientific theory of human functioning is presented. The name of the theory is Perceptual Control Theory (PCT). The phenomenon explained by PCT is organic control, which is purported to be the defining characteristic of life itself. The phenomenon of control – keeping internal states stable according to autonomously specified standards in the face of external perturbations – has been identified at all levels of functioning, including the biochemical, physiological, psychological, and social. People are designed to control. Indeed, even health can be defined in terms of control processes for a much more meaningful definition than the current World Health Organization’s contribution of “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This chapter explains the important elements of the theory and the implications that PCT has for improving health service provision.