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Flashcards in L1 health disease illness Deck (12):

what is health

- Health is shaped by cultural, social and political factors
- In other words, good health is understood in relation to the subjective experience of illness.


how does Morse and Gadamer describe health

- Janice Morse (1994:315), interprets wellness as 'a state of optimal comfort that is disrupted by the occurrence of an illness episode'.
- In a similar way Gadamer (1996:113), describes health as ‘a condition of being involved, of being in the world, of being together with ones fellow human beings, of active and rewarding engagement with one’s everyday tasks’.


what is illness

Illness is the human experience of loss or dysfunction and incorporates the social lived experience of illness and suffering which occurs as a result, whereas disease is the manifestation of aberration at the cellular, tissue, or organ level.


how does Benner and Wrubel describe illness

For example Benner and Wrubel (1989:8) describe the symptoms of illness as being an 'interruption, an inconvenience, or a health worry'.


how does Arthur Frank in "At the will of the body"

Arthur Frank in At the will of the body: reflections on illness (1991:13). describes illness as
'the experience of living through the disease'. He further contends 'that if disease talk measures the body, illness talk tells us of the fear and frustration of being inside a body that is breaking down'


what is disease

Disease, on the other hand, refers to a problem that is viewed from the biomedical model, in biological terms, as in alteration in structure and function


what is Cartesian Model

Cartesian understandings/consequences: the separation of mind from body
- The dominant constructs by which scholars (in Western thought) have considered subject matter related to the human body and embodiment have their roots in the work of René Descartes
“ I think therefore I am” (the mind is therefore superior to the body)
- Descartes firmly held the view that nothing was true unless there was evidence to certify that it was. As the only source of certainty is the mind and reasoning, there is a mistrust of the senses and therefore the body, which experiences the sensations
- Therefore the Cartesian man is an accumulation of parts sensed simultaneously as one whole body
- These separations have caused the human body to be viewed primarily as an object by the natural sciences, as a 'machine driven by mechanical causality and susceptible to mathematical analysis...' (Leder 1984:29-30). Because the body was understood as human machinery it was rendered amenable to scientific investigation.
- Our epistemology of the body has remained predominantly Cartesian.
subjectivity = illness experience
objectivity = biomedical model = Cartesian


Problems associated with the Biomedical Model/Cartesian Duality

Dealing with disease/illness only through a dualistic medical perspective is limiting and reductionist because physical reductionism excludes social, behavioural and psychological dimensions of illness.


Legacy of Cartesian Duality

The assumption that illness can be reduced to disordered biochemical or neurological dysfunction


Embodying Illness

Merleau-Ponty strongly challenged Cartesian
“ I am my body, my body is what I am, and it is through my body that I understand the world . . .
... how we live and experience our bodies, especially through perception, emotion, language, movement, in space, time, and sexuality.”
In our normal healthy everyday lives we tend to take our bodies and our health for granted. We do not think of them in dualistic terms. We feel and are embodied.


In their socio-cultural environment people with illness/disease now need to realign their body, self and society.



Oliver Sacks – A leg to stand on

Sacks, following a reflection on his own experiences and commenting on the narrow biomedical account of disease in case notes said that they:
“tell us nothing about the individual and his history: they convey nothing of the person, and the experience of the person, as he faces, and struggles to survive, his disease. There is no 'subject' in a narrow case history... “