What Is Health, Anyways?

I hope that in the process of writing these blogs, that I’ve started to convey the message that a negative definition of health is not really that useful for true healthcare system. By a ‘negative’ definition of health, I mean that it is defined in terms what is absent or destroyed, such as ‘an absence of symptoms’, or ‘a tumour was destroyed with method X, Y, or Z’. This only begs the question, that once all the symptoms are gone, what remains? It isn’t necessarily a state of health, which is the usual implication of this line of thinking.

The problem with a negative definition of health is that it represents an allopathic approach to healthcare, where treatment begins after the appearance of a symptom, and ends when the symptom is gone. In a pharmaceutical approach to chronic illness, for example, the presence of symptoms supposedly indicates the need for a prescription drug, which the patient will need to be kept on for the rest of their life, since the disease is never cured. Or even worse, when such a drug approach suppresses a symptom, the treatment is defined as a ‘success’, and the now symptom-free patient is therefore declared ‘healthy’.

A very weak attempt at expanding the negative definition at this point usually will try to define health in terms such as “having energy”, or “feeling happy”. This is actually still a negative definition of health, in the sense that these indicators still exist on the same plane as other ‘negative’ symptomatic indication of health or its lack. On the periphery of a positive definition of health, we can certainly make reference to this symptomatic or ‘pathic’ level of defining health, but it certainly leaves very much to be desired. Alternative modalities of healthcare, including homeopathy, can fall into this mode of thinking just as easily as pharmaceutical approaches. Some of the deepest illnesses can appear as symptom-free conditions, and likewise, some of the highest states of health may be accompanied by one or more symptoms, which would normally indicate illness. It’s the overall definition and framework of health which dictates whether treatment will be moving a patient forward, or not, and not the simplistic definition of symptoms and their removal.

Speaking of desires, we can revisit the topic of our objective desire function as one of the first benchmarks to look at within a ‘positive’ definition of health. Connecting to our own desire function in the first place, and then working to unfold it over time  is a certain indication of health in a truer sense. Rather than building a healthcare system around the perpetual skeet shoot of symptoms, the focus on one’s desire function, and what it takes to remove any obstacles to connecting with it, form a much more solid framework to build a true system of healthcare upon. An understanding of movement and development, then, contributes to this approach to health, rather than a dead or static definition, as implied by the focus on symptoms and their removal.

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