Health is something of an enigma. Like the axiomatic elephant, it is problematic to describe but easy to spot when we see it. There are no simple, candid answers to this. Trying to define health depends on developing understanding regarding a wide assortment of perspectives, biases and experiences that are, sequentially, historically, socially, and culturally situated. That said, one of the most frequently referenced definitions of health in the last few decades is the classic one presented by the World Health Organization, that is, health is defined as a state of complete physical, social, and mental well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity. One of the fortes of this explanation is its all-encompassing extensiveness. It moves away from the idea that being healthy is merely about not being ill. In this regard it has a more optimistic, holistic view. It has been criticized though for that precise reason, that is, this definition is too idealistic and unattainable. Moreover, there are quite likely other dimensions to health, like emotional, spiritual, and even sexual health. Fundamentally, the concept of health is not stable or static over time or within dissimilar contexts. It is swayed by a plethora of things and has different meanings to each individual. The significance of health is also disputed and there is no universally agreed definition. Indeed, the perception of health remains indefinable. Interestingly enough, in his book Creating Health for Everyone: Principles, Practice and Philosophy, Colin Johnson offers a definition of health that spreads to nearly four pages, which exemplifies the hazy nature of it and the rather impossible task of trying to yield a universally acceptable definition! That said, Johnson offered a rough guideline of different kinds of health. From that, you can come up with your own definition of this enigmatic term!
- Booth, Louise, and Ruth Cross. Contemporary health studies: an introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012.
- Johnson, Colin. Creating health: principles, practice and philosophy for everyone. Pwllheli: Colin Johnson?], 2007.