Are you Healthy – or just not Sick? If this sounds like a trivial question, then but how do you answer it? isn’t it interesting that we can easily and specifically talk about our Ill-health at length, but we can’t talk about Health in a way that evokes unambiguous understanding of what is meant? Does it even matter if there is a definition of the rather amorphous term? Well – we wouldn’t dare to go and see a physician in absence of a “symptom” – an exception of your “normal” look or feeling? Of course not, health-care systems do not care about Health, they care about the mending manifest diversions from the “Normal” condition. In other words, health-care should be more aptly referred to as “sick-care”, because the system has no answers for the Healthy. Consequently, the definition of “sick” is rather obvious, it is the visible or experienced reduction of normal physical or mental condition or function. There are many different ways of expression, but the essence is unequivocally the same.
Now try to define “Health” and “being healthy” by a term that evokes a universally equivalent understanding. Obviously a challenge, most dictionaries confine the term as something like “the absence of disease”. But isn’t there much more to Health than the absence of an identifiable ailment? Apart from evident Physical Health, what about more concealed Mental Health, Emotional Health, Spiritual Health, Social Health, Intellectual Health – isn’t all that essential to a state of well being? But does that mean “Health” is the absence of any and all (perceived) problems and concerns – would then “Health” be synonymous with Happiness? Even reduced to Physical Health there is a wide spectrum of ambiguity, if you feel tired or fatigued – are you sick or are you healthy? Is weight gain a disease or just a sign of hedonism? Are you ill because you need reading glasses? What about wrinkles and sagging skin – is aging a disease? This thought open a Pandora’s box: what is the normal rate of aging – where is – and who is the authority for setting the benchmark for “normal”?
Are you absolutely or relatively Healthy?
Researchers at Rice University have tried to define the parameters for measuring Health. They conclude that Health is measured in terms of
l) absence of physical pain, physical disability, or a condition that is likely to cause death
2) emotional well-being, and
3) satisfactory social functioning.
But they admit that there is no single standard of measurement of health status of Individuals or Groups, which may be assessed by an observer. It follows that “Health” assessed in this way is relative and subjective, while what we really want to know is:
Am I absolutely Healthy – objectively measured, not subjectively assumed by relative comparison with Others. We don’t compare our pain or disfigurement with the neighbors arthritis or cancer. Quite the opposite: we visualize and strive to look as young and slim as the person on the cover of a magazine. Such natural cravings are the very foundation of an ever growing Beauty and Anti-Aging industry, even in absence of objective standards.
That is exactly the point: if we can’t define Health but only Ill-health – we’ll never look like that Idol no matter what! Because if we measure our Health by its weaning, we’ll wait to act until we can define the symptoms, thereby depriving ourselves from gaining and sustaining utmost Vitality and stunning Appearance.
If we succeed in establishing a globally valid definition for absolute Health – we can actually begin to provide of real Health-care, that is caring for the preservation – or revival of the benchmark Health.
Rice University: Measurement of Health Status