I would define health as a state of well-being, where one is both physically and mentally well. I believe that if someone is physically well and feels well, then they are in a state of health. If one or both of these conditions is not met, then the individual is ill. I would then define illness as a disturbance in an individual’s health that has a negative impact on their physical or mental well-being. I think that these ideas came from the media and from school. When I think of the ways that health and illness are described by the media, anything that significantly perturbs an individual’s health is considered to be an illness. The Biology classes that I have taken have focused more on infectious agents and how they can affect an individual, and infectious agents fit well with the idea that an illness is a disturbance in an individual’s health considering that bacteria and viruses can often cause quite a disturbance in their host.
The three conditions I decided to talk about are Old Age, Insomnia, and Spirit Possession. I believe that Old Age is not an illness, just a normal stage of life. One could argue that as someone ages they are no longer physically well and therefore ill, but I believe that Old Age is an exception to my definition of health. Even though an individual’s physical and mental condition deteriorates with age, Old Age is effectively unavoidable and it is for this reason that I do not consider it to be an illness. For Insomnia, I believe that it is an illness when it occurs with a high frequency. I do not consider one or two sleepless nights a month to be indicative of an illness, but I believe that chronic insomnia is an illness, due to the severe impact it can have on an individual’s health. Spirit Possession was the hardest for me to categorize because while I do not believe in the existence of spirits, an individual who claims to be possessed by a spirit is probably ill with some sort of mental condition, provided that they are not simply lying about their condition for whatever reason.