When I think about defining words like health and illness it brings me back to my Ethics in Public Health Care class. In this class we looked at tens of definitions attempting to narrow down what health is so that appropriate action can be taken. In this context, I think it’s important to generalize more rather than go into specifics. Health to me is like mentioned in the lecture, an absence of illness and vice versa. One cannot be defined explicitly without the other. Both are referring to not just the effects on one’s physical attributes, but mental and spiritual in some cases.
Personally, I believe my thoughts on this has come from my education as of now. Before that however, I would say a combination between my family, the media, and what personal experiences I’ve had. My father is a doctor so that has allowed me to both be sensitive as well as casually accept the physical and mental changes that occur throughout time. I’ve learned what should be taken seriously versus what I can easily brush off. And of course the media has played a role, because that is part of the experience of evolving as a person in society today.
Cancer to me is clearly an illness. It is something foreign to the body, negatively effecting it and in turn, damaging the body.
Menstruation was a little more tricky for me, but I believe it is not an illness. This is because it is not causing harm or pain to negatively impact a person. It is a natural cycle of life, and necessary to survive for a woman.
Finally, Spirit possession to me was the most complex of the options. This is because depending on the culture you’re in it could be good or bad. For that reason, I would say it could be an illness, but it would be up for debate.