Concepts of Health

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As humans remain different in nature, so are their perceptions and response towards certain issues of their lives and well being. The concept of health assumes to be a typical example of this and hence, poses debate about what it is. “Health” is a word which means different things to different people (Ewles & Simnett, 2003). This essay intends to critically discuss the meaning of health by exploring different definitions and their contraindications.

Naidoo & Wills (2000) defined health in two main ways: the positive approach, where health is viewed as a capacity or an asset, and the negative approach, which emphasises the absence of illness, diseases or disorders. “Health” as defined by the World
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In terms of the negative aspect of health, an individual is regarded as healthy when not suffering from a particular illness or disease. Though “illness” and “disease” are used interchangeably, they are different (Naidoo & Wills 2000). Disease relates to biological malfunctioning, diagnosed by doctors, while illness refers both to the personal experience of the disease and its social implications. Therefore the negative concept of health is closely associated with orthodox medicine.

Townsend and Davidson (1988) also suggested that the term health is derived from the word “whole”, which is a recipient of the healing process. Therefore, an attempt to heal or cure in medical field literally means, to make whole or restore health. It is this idea that influences medicine to adopt a mechanistic approach towards disease management thereby obscuring the understanding of health in human context of well-being, which advocates for alternative or complementary approaches. This viewpoint also reflects in some definitions and the medical model discussed above. The criticisms of the medical by Illich (1974) is that the medical view only deals with the cause of disease or illness rather than the external factors affecting the person’s health. Within different sections of medicine, for example the mental health department, there are marked differences when explaining the origin of illness, disease and treatments.

However, the World Health
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