Defining ‘health’ is a slippery slope because it seems that everyone views different aspects of health slightly differently. For me, ‘health’ should be defined using an encompassing definition that draws on physical, mental/personal and spiritual domains to varying degrees. I believe that each individual determines their health by mentally prioritizing those domains. For example, I believe I am healthy when I don’t suffer from symptoms of illness such as coughing, sneezing, headaches, etc. But I also must feel good about my position in life (which speaks to my mental health and personal well being). Also, while I personally lack strong religious convictions, I feel that people who do have strong faiths use that as an indicator of their health along with the other aspects I mentioned. Similarly, ‘illness’ should be defined along those same lines. A person may be ill if they suffer from physical ailments such as coughing, wheezing, vomiting, etc. but they may also be ill if they suffer from mental ailments (e.g. mental illness such as schizophrenia or OCD).
The first condition that I choose to discuss is ADHD because I have had personal experience with the diagnosis. I was not personally diagnosed with ADHD, but my brother was when he was 13 years old. He is now 25 and since the initial diagnosis his “illness” has been re-diagnosed a minimum of four times and only recently were doctors able to determine that he in fact did not meet criteria for any known illness or disorder. He suffered from a synaptic gap between the right and left hemispheres of his brain that manifested itself as a vision problem, which led to him not being able to pay attention in school or focus on any one thing for extended periods of time. So, due to my experiences, I don’t believe that ADHD is an illness. For the record, I also don’t believe that an ADHD diagnosis is part of a conspiracy to make money for the pharmaceutical companies. I simply believe that ADHD was a diagnosis born from a lack of intelligence on the part of the doctors and medical field as a whole.
The second condition I’d like to discuss is old age. I honestly thought this was comical when I heard it on the lecture. I’ve never thought about old age as an illness, and I still do not believe that it is. In fact, I strongly believe that old age is a privilege. Advances in technology have afforded people with better health care and prolonged life-expectancy, both of which were not seen in the past or in developing countries. Old age may come with higher rates of illness and disease, but I don’t believe that age in and of itself is an illness. At most it may be a causative agent of illness or disease, but simply living to an older age is in no way an illness.