I started by defining health in biological terms. To me, health means being having a certain functional capacity that keeps the body balanced, and being in general free from disease, injury, or other malady. A deciding factor in this definition could be the absence or presence of clinical symptoms of a disease, or the ability or inability of the body to function normally. A person’s illness is the perception of a state of negatively altered health that detracts from his or her health, and which fits within the person’s cultural context. A deciding factor for this definition of illness could be what the person’s culture designates as an illness, and if what the person is feeling fits within that perceived definition.
I feel that these ideas about health and illness have developed from a number of sources, including society, personal experience, and formal education. Society influenced these views because it is the cultural context I grew up in, and gave me a basis for comparison of health, illness, and disease. Personal experience has also been a factor, because there have of course been times where I considered myself ill, and other times when I considered myself health, or anywhere in between. Lastly, as a science student, I have taken biology and medicine related classes that have given me more precise frameworks for what each field considers illness and health.
The conditions listed in the video lecture were all difficult to define, because I feel that each could possibly be considered an illness. For me, the distinction is subjective because it depends on the person experiencing it; the deciding factor is if they perceive themselves to be experiencing an illness. Old age was difficult to classify. From an outsider’s perspective, as a person who has not experienced old age, I found it hard to classify as an illness. Old age is a natural experience and part of a natural life cycle, and in and of itself not a deviation from wellbeing. Sadness was also hard to classify, because it is a normal emotion experienced at some time or another by most people. However, in excessive amounts, it can largely contribute to depression, which is an altered health state I would consider an illness. Lastly, I found shyness difficult to classify because it is an intrinsic characteristic of a person, not generally something that is “contracted” like other diseases can be. If the people experiencing shyness do not consider themselves to have an altered state of health, I would not consider shyness an illness.