I defined health as having a fully functioning body and mind, but also think of it as the absence of disease.  Illness, on the other hand, is an abnormal condition or disease that impairs the body and/or mind from working properly.

I think that my idea of health being the absence of disease came from the way I experienced health care growing up.  At my annual check-ups, so long as none of the tests came back with negative or abnormal results, I was proclaimed healthy.  Illness in my mind was distinguished by clear signs and symptoms of disease.  As I progressed in school, I further developed my concept of health.  We were taught that health has many components besides the physical aspect, including social and mental health.  Growing up with a mom who works as a dietitian, I was also raised to think of health as stemming from a healthy lifestyle and diet, kind of like the “surplus health” mentioned in the lecture.

Sadness was the hardest condition to classify for me.  I have grown up with many of my family members suffering from depression and can see it as a disease.  It definitely can have physical manifestations like low energy and over- or under-eating, and prevents people from fully using their mental energy.  On the other hand, sadness takes many forms, and while chronic depression might fit my description of illness, sadness is a normal emotion that everyone can experience periodically or in response to events.

One condition that I would not classify as illness is poverty.  While poverty often leads to diminished health and disease, the term refers to a socio-economic status that is outside of the body.  The living conditions of poverty often do manifest themselves in poor nutrition, sanitation, and health care, but rather than seeing these as illness in themselves, I see them as leading to illnesses of different names.

I would classify HIV as an illness, since it can be transmitted and diagnosed, and impairs the health of its hosts.  This virus disrupts the body’s immune system and eventually causes the body to fall susceptible to many diseases.  Even in the latency period of HIV, before symptoms of full-blown AIDS begin, a diagnosed patient would most likely describe himself as experiencing illness.  The knowledge that his body is losing proper function can lead to anxiety and depression, even if his body shows no outward signs of disease.

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