Since both health and illness are terms used to evaluate a living thing’s state of being, they can only be defined by an individual describing what he/she senses. For this reason both terms are subjective and specific to the individual’s idea of them. My original definition of “health” was an individual’s description of normal, that is, the average state they experience, are comfortable under, and are able to function properly with. I described illness as any deviation from that normal which the individual defines based on symptoms they feel. Therefore, a deciding factor of illness is whether a person senses a difference from their norm.
These ideas come from personal experience of illness and attempting to communicate those illnesses as well as witnessing others do the same. I suppose this took place for the most part within family, as they are often the first people I have described illness symptoms to. My definition is mainly subjective and general because when trying to communicate one’s feelings general terms are the most widely understood and relatable.
Some of the faults with my definitions may be that they focus on the individual’s perception of “normal” or “healthy” rather than society’s communal definitions. It is often useful to describe observed phenomena by comparing it to an accepted norm. However, when dealing with illnesses I first thought description of the individual’s perception best. Some sort of comprised definition would probably be most utilitarian.
I found “anxiety” and “old age” to be ones that specifically challenged my definition. First of all, anxiety in itself is another term that is defined differently person to person (unlike the flu, for instance). I thought that most people feel anxiety from time to time and view it as a normal, finite, perhaps daily feeling that passes when the event causing anxiety is over. However, I considered chronic anxiety to be an illness because the person then feels a definite shift from their average “norm”. Secondly, old age was tough because it deals with a person’s definition of “normal” or “healthy” from different times in their lives. In fact one’s definition from adolescence may be entirely different from that of old age. Therefore a person may have an illness based on their younger definition yet feel normal based on their current one.