I think of health as how alive someone is – or perhaps how close or far away they may be from dying. For example, someone who may be very underfed and malnourished would be unhealthy. They may not have long to live. On the other hand, someone that maintains a physical lifestyle and a balanced diet is healthy. They can likely prolong their expected life through maintaining their lifestyle.

Illness, I believe, is an attribute of someone when they or their body is behaving in a way outside of their control, outside of the norm, and possibly operating in a negative way. For example, someone with a mental condition is said to have a mental illness, because they do not act in the typical behavior that we would observe other people acting in. Someone who is sick may also be ill or have illness, because their body isn’t acting how it should. It may be causing someone pain and may need to be healed as a result.

I believe these ideas were ingrained due to our culture. I have grown up in the United States, and the definition of healthy is the same definition that I posted – because that’s what our culture idolizes: people who work out, eat healthy, are physically active. However, we might compare ourselves to people living in Africa and say that we are more healthy because of these reasons, although someone from Africa may think differently as they have a very different view of “healthy”.

Firstly, cancer can obviously seen as an illness. A tumor grows, and eventually it doesn’t stop growing. Other cells become cancerous, and it can easily result in death unless untreated. This falls in line with illness because the body shouldn’t become cancerous – it should be healthy and grow normally. Regardless, cancer can happen, and it’s certainly not in line with a normal, healthy lifestyle.

Secondly, I would say sadness can be classified as an illness. At least, depression can. Everyone becomes sad at one point or another. In fact, if someone didn’t, I’d believe they were ill. Depression has been shown to happen through a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s not something that can be helped, and someone who is depressed is sad more often than someone who isn’t, which to me sounds like an illness.

Finally, there is shyness. This was the hardest to classify for me. On one hand, it can be an illness, as someone may have mental issues and not have the same social capacity to be outgoing like others are. This would be an illness. On the other hand, everyone can become shy at one point or another, and this is due to human behavior. It’s not a defect or something caused by being unhealthy, it’s simply a personality trait. Due to this, I believe shyness can safely be classified as not an illness. If someone is particularly shy, it may not be that they are only shy – there is likely another mental condition contributing to the issue, and that is the disease, not shyness.

2 thoughts on “Shyness

  1. I agree that cancer is a definite illness. The determent that cancer does to the body is quite evident to those with it as well as without it. Other cultures view cancer as an illness as well. The obvious affects that are placed on the body are medically evident to cultures globally. According to Mr. Benowitz (1999), “Cancer is increasingly viewed as a chronic disease people are learning to live with”. So the classification of cancer as a disease is evident. The differences lies in how treatment is decided based on regional beliefs. American doctors are very upfront with their patients about their disease and treatment options available so that treatment can be started right away. However, in countries such as Africa, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Italy, Panama and France only one-third of the physicians actually inform their patient that they have the disease and prefer to tell the family members in order to spare the patient. In the Asian regions, the doctor and family normally make the treatment decisions and leave the patients out of the decision process. Denial is very prevalent and some patients state that they do not want to know. Dr. Holland, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, N.Y, stated that in come countries a woman could possibly be left by her husband for having the disease. (Benowitz 1999). So most regions of the world, cancer is most definitely seen as a disease but it is the acknowledgement and treatment that begins to vary based on cultural interpretation.

    Benowitz, Stephen. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. To Tell the Truth: A Cancer Diagnosis in Other Cultures Is Often a Family Affair. Vol. 91, Issue 22. 1999; 1918-1919.

  2. I would like to comment on Shyness as a condition. Some consider it a personality disorder or disease. In the website for Social Anxiety Support some people made comments about people in the United States being loud and abrasive while people in Europe are more quiet and introspective. It is perceived totally differently over there from here where it is considered a “problem” by some. If it is not considered a problem, there would not be a reason to treat it. Here some people may be given anti-anxiety medications and therapy to “treat” it. People in some cultures, in particular Scandinavians–Finnish people tend to be shy and quiet. A whole country does not need treatment, that is just the way they are. Some cultures find shyness to be acceptable and a way of showing respect such as in some asian countries. People in the United Kingdom are known to reserved and it is just the way they are and not considered a problem or conditon. If it is a reason to seek treatment in other cultures, there would be no other way other that with medication or therapy if it is seen as a problem in other countries, however that is not how it is perceived. Another SAS member stated that he had lived in Japan until he was 12 and over there it is not seen as a sign of weakness at least not to the degree it is here. So it appears that in some other countries it is not seen as a problem and something that warrants treatment like a disorder or disease. Thus, in their viewpoint not something that is to be treated.​...

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