CONCEPTS OF HEALTH DISEASE AND ILLNESS
As humans remain different in nature, so are their perceptions and response towards certain issues of their lives and well-being. The concept of health assumes to be a typical example of this and hence, poses debate about what it is. How do we manage illness, disease and sickness to draw a valid conclusion on its definition? This essay intends to discuss the meaning of health by exploring different definitions and their contradictions. It will also define illness while giving an example of illness experiences. Furthermore, the concept of disease will be discussed. Finally, I will explain the sick role while critically analysing and evaluating its features.
According to Townsend and Davidson (1988,p33), the term health is derived from the word “whole”, which is a recipient of the healing process. Therefore, an attempt to heal or cure in the medical field literally means, to make whole or restore health. It is this idea that influences medicine to adopt a mechanistic approach towards disease management thereby obscuring the understanding of health in the human context of well-being, which advocates for alternative or complementary approaches. This viewpoint reflects in some definition and the medical model discussed below.
“Health” as defined by the world health organization (1946) is the ‘state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease. (Class handout) This would define health in an ideal world, which would apply to very few people. Seedhouse (1986) criticism of this definition believed that a more realistic view was needed. He went on to define health by postulating that “ a person’s optimum state of health is equivalent to the state of the set of conditions which fulfil or enable a person to work to fulfil his or her realistic and chosen biological potentials. Some of these conditions are of the highest importance for all people. Others are variable dependent upon individual abilities and circumstances.”
However, the World Health Organisation later re-defined health in 1984 as “the extent to which an individual or group is able on one hand to realize aspirations and satisfy needs; and, on the other hand, to change or cope with the environment. Health is therefore, seen as a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living; it is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.”
This definition has been viewed from many different perspectives. Everyone is unique so the term “health” is a concept that varies from person to person and from one society to another. We all have our own personal views of being healthy. Many view health as being free of disease and illness and that as long as you are or feel “alright” you are healthy, but being “alright” does not mean being entirely without illness or disease.
From a laypersons’ point of view, my idea of “being healthy” would be to be free of illness and disease, to be physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally stable and to be able to make independent choices and decision about my life. I also believe that a person’s health can be influenced by their lifestyle. From a medical perspective, health would be defined as the absence of disease, illness or injury. The body is seen as a machine made up of many parts. The body and mind are viewed as separate parts; when there is a problem the body is broken down into parts, the problem found and rectified. The criticism of the medical view is that the medical view only deals with the cause of the disease or illness rather than the external factors affecting the person’s health. Within different sections of medicine, for example the mental health department, there are marked differences when explaining the origin of illness, disease, and treatments. When trying to define health it is important to look at the different aspects and influences on health such as; • Physical Health-to do with the body as whole
• Mental Health-to do with your state of mind and ability to be able to perceive and think clearly • Emotional Health-deals with your coping mechanism when faced with emotional issues such as anger, grief, joy and sorrow • Social Health-being able to maintain healthy relationships with other people • Spiritual Health-being at peace with yourself
• Societal Health-dealing with social factors that may affect your health such as housing, employment, discrimination and poverty. (This may of course vary from one individual to another depending on cultural and ethnic beli...