My definition of health is the physical state that the body or mind is in. If the body is suffering from a disease or ailment that prohibits it from functioning properly, that is considered to be an illness. The deciding factors on whether or not the examples given were illnesses to me was first if I knew exactly what the example was and how it affected the body and second if the illness in question was something that could be physically pinpointed or seen within the body.

A lot of our ideas concerning health and illness I believe come from the media. The media is a very powerful thing and once ideas get put into people’s mind they run with them. Personally a lot of my ideas about health and illness come from my family and their experiences as well as my personal experiences. I have also been educated on specific types of illnesses and diseases and that’s why I define them as things that negatively affect a person’s body. When I say the term illness I believe it is something very severe.

The first condition from the list I had to question was infertility. At first I did not believe this to be an illness because I didn’t think that a lack of producing eggs or sperm should be considered in the same category as cancer or HIV which are things that I immediately considered illnesses. I still personally would not consider this to be an illness because it is due to the person’s body not having all the criteria to procreate not due to a disease being introduced into the body. The second condition I question is erectile dysfunction. ED is an effect of something else going on in the body. It should not be considered an illness because I believe it strongly correlates to psychological issues of the mind and maybe even physical health issues, and in my opinion isn’t severe enough to categorize as an illness.

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  1. Dan Wright says:

    I also considered media and family to be the leading sources for my ideas of health and illness. Within my personal experiences with illness I find family to be the first people I seek out (as do most people, I think). Therefore my parents’ ideas of health and illness have been passed down to me just as they were passed down to them by their parents, no matter how right or wrong those ideas might be. I agree that media is an immensely powerful source of society’s knowledge. Many people have a tendency to underestimate the extent to which their “personal beliefs” actually originate from the media’s power of suggestion.
    I categorized infertility similarly while doing this exercise. I thought of infertility as something a person is born with. For this reason I also did not think it was logical to categorize it as an illness alongside conditions which are communicable or progressing such as many diseases. I found an article put out by the World Health Organization on infertility in Uganda. It raised some points that I hadn’t thought of, such as infertility being caused several things. For example, an ectopic pregnancy can lead to “secondary infertility” in women, which is the inability to reproduce after a first pregnancy. Also, sexually transmitted things such as “tubal occlusion from reproductive tract infections” are often the cause of infertility. Finally, the article says that even though a couple’s inability to conceive is due to sperm deficiency half of the times, women are most often blamed, and even “Ugandan women are not accepted by society unless they have a child.”

    “Mother or nothing: the agony of infertility.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 88 (2010): 12, accessed July 7, 2013.

  2. Alex Chavez-Yenter says:

    After doing some research on the perception and treatment of infertility in various cultures, I have found that there is a much stronger social stigma associated with infertility than I have perceived in my own culture. I would surmise that infertility in our culture would mostly be comprised of disappointment and maybe feelings of inadequacy. The stigma in other countries seems much more serious due to societal and religious influences. In most cases, the woman bears the blame of infertility which can lead to ostracism in the community, threats of divorce by their partner, or physical and verbal abuse. Cultures within Latin America, Mozambique, and Pakistan have the heavily ingrained expectation of child-bearing women that has caused infertility to have serious social repercussions.

    According to the article, much of the knowledge on infertility is simply insufficient. The fertility cycle is often foreign to certain cultures with misconceptions about fertility running rampant. The example of the “post-coital exercise of standing on one’s head” was given in the article as a method used to promote pregnancy as well as the dangerous remedy of eating feces and inducing vomiting in Tanzania. Infertility seems most socially problematic in cultures with low levels of knowledge and strong religious belief systems.

    Ali Sumera, et al. “Knowledge, perceptions and myths regarding infertility among selected adult population in Pakistan: a cross-sectional study” BMC Public Health 11:760 (2011).

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