This weeks activity asks us to define health and illness. To me, health is a generic term that describes the proper and continuous function of your body systems. Your body is like a machine, so if everything is working properly and sufficiently, not giving you problems, then you could consider yourself as having “good” health. Whereas, when your body’s functions are interrupted and stop working correctly, then your health status declines.
Illness is what your body feels in reaction to your health status. When your health is affected, you develop symptoms that make you feel ill. Although illness is not necessarily something that can be diagnosed, it leads to the discovery and possible treatment of disease. Illness warns you that something is wrong.
The criteria for these two personal definitions came from a combination of sources including media, family, and personal experience. Through life, I have learned what bad health and illness looks like by watching and hearing other people describe their health conditions, as well by listening to what media considers “bad” for your health, or things that may cause illness.
The first condition from the list given in lecture that I would like to discuss was poverty. I do not consider poverty as an illness itself, but I do believe that illness and bad health can stem from living in poverty. I look at poverty as a vicious cycle because I feel that poverty can cause illness and disease because of poor living conditions and no money for treatment, but those without money usually are stuck in poverty and are more likely to get sick. Poverty does not fit my criteria to be considered an illness because poverty is not a function of your body, it’s a measurement of your surroundings and financial abilities.
Another condition that I found interesting was spirit possession. This can be a touchy subject and I think that depending on a individual’s personal beliefs or views, spirit possession may or may not be an illness. The reason I say this is because if a person’s culture practices the belief of spirit possession, then it is very much possible that when they think they are possessed, they consider symptoms they have a result of the possession. IT may or may not be from the possession but if a person falls sick in a culture that believes that spirits regulate their health, then to them, they may be ill because of the spirits. On the opposite end, if a person does not believe in spirits and their ability to possess them, then they may not think that spirit possession is an illness. Then again, they could think its an illness of those who do believe in it.
I personally do not look at spirit possession as an illness in my personal life because I do not attribute bad health to the works of bad spirits, however I can not speak on another individuals beliefs, because in contrast, I do believe it could be an illness in some other cultures. I think of spirit possession as religious and psychological topics. This condition can be looked at in different ways, which is why anthropology is important because what qualifies as an illness in some cultures may differ in another.