I see health as being in a normal state of sensation. Being aware of your homeostatic level and knowing when it has deviated or knowing where your daily set point is at. An illness is the presence of a factor that causes you to feel uneasy, non homeostatic, or simply not normal. For instance when you wake up every morning (usually) you feel a bit tired and groggy but other than that feel nice and healthy. One day if you wake up in the morning with your nose congested or you’re sneezing you know that you have an illness because a regular “normal” feeling has changed and you feel a different stressful sensation. This leads to you having to take some sort of supplement whether it be tea, cough syrup, or aspirin to return to a set point.

I based this reasoning on my own personal experiences, when I was a child (I’m not sure why) I would constantly get ear infections. It got to the point where the day before if I already had the flu and felt my ears had this tingly sensation I knew that I was going to have an ear infection. Surely enough I would wake up the next morning to the throbbing,popping, and agonizing pain (or so it felt) of an ear infection. I would go to my doctor and get some antibiotics and pain reliever that helped with the infection. Using that as a criteria I defined an illness as that early morning feeling of “oh man I feel terrible” and having to use something to feel normal.

I chose infertility as something that is hard to categorize as an illness because many people who are infertile are asymptomatic they show no signs of being “ill”. They go on most of their lives without knowing that something is wrong. But then its becomes a problem when said people try to procreate and cannot succeed, so indeed something is wrong but their daily sensation of health is unaffected.

Another one would be old age, to me it seems like a normal phenomenon and that every life form experiences some sort of senescence. Although the individual may feel fatigue and other pains. It’s something that must become normal for everyone or that eventually becomes normal for us as we age.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Vanessa Salmo says:

    I chose to research infertility because it is something that strongly controls our social norms. It dictates when we aim to marry and when we aim to bare children due to various complications with getting pregnant as woman age. Being infertile in the United States does not leave us without options for having children. As a developed country we have access to treatments that help with infertility. In other countries like India the resources are scarce and being infertile is not socially acceptable. There is typically overwhelming resources for traditional or alternative medicine in these countries rather than mainstream invetro fertilization like we have here in the United States however both of these treatments are becoming more equally available. In many countries having more children helps the family with the work load and displays a social status. This is opposite of the United States where the more children greater the economic burden. Not only do we see the capability of bearing children as being a healthy woman but also we see this as helping her achieve mental peace. The western media portrays “the perfect family” and when we see deviations from this norm we typically tend to make assumptions about this.

    VanBalen, Frank. “Interpreting Infertility: Social Science Research on Childlessness in a Global Perspective.” African Journal of Reproductive Health 4: 120-122. (accessed July 5, 2014).

  2. Matt Meranda says:

    I chose not to write my Activity Response regarding infertility, though it is certainly is a difficult condition to define under the illness-or-disease parameter. I know that the Catholic Church holds particularly strong opinions on matters of sexuality and child-bearing, so rather than a different culture as defined by geographical distance from the United States, I chose to analyze the condition of infertility from the perspective of a specific religious culture. In the conservative Catholic ideology, augmenting the child-bearing process is seen as unholy. This is the same logic that drives political pro-life sentiment of this religious culture. Interestingly, in the schema of the Catholic Church, infertility has just as much to do with the child possibly being conceived as it does with his or her attempting (future) parents. Again the right to life argument is employed in this mindset, as children, even those yet to be born, are seen as autonomous individuals that have rights to themselves; among these is the right to be born naturally and via God’s will.

    “Infertility Hurts.” : Being Catholic and dealing with infertility. (accessed July 6, 2014).

  3. sarah rousakis says:

    I very much agreed with your post about being difficult to categorize infertility as an illness or not, since most people with fertility issues are asymptomatic and do not realize they have a problem until they are trying to get pregnant. I did some research on how infertility is perceived and treated in Africa and found that infertility is a very common issue in sub-saharan African and affects almost 30% of people in Nigeria specifically. In Africa, when women are not able to have children, their is a very negative reaction from the family, as they are expecting the family name to continue through children. Many of the women in Africa who are infertile will not tell their family since they are ashamed and afraid of how their families would react. The women are blamed for the infertility more so then men and this can cause serious mental and emotional issues for them. Most couple who are having issues with conceiving children will go to special spiritual healers and try other forms of alternative medicine such as herbs and spices. Other drastic rituals include sacrificing animals. Many people in Africa who are unable to conceive are convinced that it is for supernatural reasons.

    Tabong Phillip. “Understanding the Social Meaning of Infertility and Childbearing: A Qualitative Study of the Perception of Childbearing and Childlessness in Northern Ghana.PLOSONE. (accessed July 6, 2014).

  4. Taylor Smith says:

    I think infertility is a very interesting topic to choose, because it is an “illness” that we are not even aware of until we begin to try to conceive a child. Infertility is seen very differently in non-western societies. There are many more cultural reasons rather than biological. In Ghana, one of the main reasons people claim for infertility is the use of contraceptives, something that goes against their religious practices. Abortions are seen as another main cause, not due to physiological reasons such as scarring or other complications, but because a woman is born with a predetermined number of children that she will bear. When a child is aborted, this is subtracted from that predetermined number. However, there are some biological reasons that are stated, such as the occurrence of sexually transmitted infections. These create medical problems that do not allow a woman to become pregnant.
    Treatment is different as well. In America, there are many infertility doctors and specialists who will prescribe hormones, drugs or other medications to increase the likelihood a woman will become pregnant, or even perform a procedure to artificially fertilize an egg. In Ghana, treatments are much more spiritual, in which special persons are called upon to remove curses, bad spirits or other methods so that a woman becomes able to have children.

    Teg-Nefaah Tabong, Philip, and Philip Adongo. “Understanding the Social Meaning of Infertility and Childbearing: A Qualitative Study of the Perception of Childbearing and Childlessness in Northern Ghana.” PLOS One 8.

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