Hello everybody!

From the first video lecture, the definition of health that I was able to come up with was a state of well-being from the perspective of the individual or level of the individual. This state of well-being spans throughout many aspects of the individual, such as: mental health, biological/physical health, and even spiritual health. I also thought of health as operating within a range of homeostatic well-being. While I was developing my definition of health I was aware that many ideas of health are culturally tied. What one culture believes to be healthy may not be considered healthy in a different culture. I wanted to point out that in my definition I added that it was from the perspective of the individual or level of the individual. As an example, someone might be viewed as ill from an outside perspective by others, but if the person is biologically ok and they don’t view themselves as being unhealthy, then they are healthy… even thought others might not agree on the individuals state of well-being. So what I am getting at is that health is culturally tied, but ultimately relies on the individual and what they believe is healthy (outside of biological health).

Illness, on the other hand, was much easier to define. My definition of illness was- anything that took the individual out of a state of homeostatic well-being or caused ill-health. What is thought of as an illness is also based on the individual because it is wrapped up in the idea of health. If a person has something afflicting them, then whatever is causing the problem is an illness in the general sense. Illnesses can be chronic or very short term.


When participating in the Illness Activity, there were a few conditions that got me thinking about illness and health to another level. For starters-

Poverty… I knew we were going to get conditions that were not going to be quite as obvious and make us think about our definitions and our own cultural beliefs. Poverty was definitely something that “opened up my eyes”. Poverty comes in many different forms and I would usually say is referring to lack of monetary income. Within our own culture, poverty is considered a “bad” thing and I would argue is looked down upon. At first, however, poverty seems kind of strange to think about as an illness, but can totally be considered an illness, in a case by case basis, if it were to negatively impact the individual’s state of well-being and being considered the root cause of other problems. For example, if the individual is suffering malnutrition, which in turn is adversely affecting the biological health of the person, then the root problem, or illness, is poverty. Take the person out of poverty in this case and the malnutrition will be cured. This could also be said about the mental aspect of being in poverty. A person might me mentally taxed while being in a state of poverty, causing a disruption in well-being.

On the other hand, poverty might not be considered a disease. Many people lack significant monetary income and that does not necessarily mean that they are in ill-health because of it. Significant monetary income is culturally/individually based definition. Individuals can function with little money or even no money! So how we define poverty means nothing when considering how the individual in question defines poverty!!!! If the individual is in a state of well-being and not biologically compromised by their living conditions, then they are not suffering from any illness (poverty) and are healthy. Interesting!

The second condition that got me thinking about illness was old age. Initially old age does not seem like something someone would consider to be an illness considering many people reach “old age”… I put old age in quotation marks because old can be another individually defined term. What old is for one person might not be old for another person. Is there a time span that someone has been alive that marks them as old? What a person considers being old age also changes based on the time the individual has been alive, for example, when a person is 4 years, they might believe 15 years to be old. When a person is 50 years, they might think 15 years to be young and 75 years to be old. I don’t think that old age itself can be thought of as an illness unless the individual believes that the age he or she is, is “old” and that is causing some sort of upset in state of well-being.  As people age, there is a greater likelihood of certain afflictions, but what if that individual does not believe himself or herself to be old? In that case, with my definition of illness, old age is not an illness.




Thanks for reading,

Justin Kenton

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