Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Health 101 (Just an undergraduate Health class paper...2005)

Ha ha ha.

Jessica Mason McFadden
HE 120-25
Paper 1

Non-denominational Health (Health for Rebels?)

When I think about the word, health, an image of Dr. Phil’s suited, but giant, figure on the cover of my partner’s copy of The Ultimate Weight Loss Solution comes to mind. It’s not that I believe Dr. Phil himself is a picture of health (I don’t live with him), but I know from watching the show that he often incorporates the dimensions of health into his motivational speeches and treatments, especially when it comes to guests on the show who want to change the way they look. I know there are many people out there who are skeptical of Dr. Phil’s approach—on many occasions I scuff and grunt at the television as he gives out advice that I think is unfair—but I believe that he does more good than harm in this world, and that is what matters. The message matters (just because he doesn’t handle things exactly the way you or I would doesn’t mean his approach is all-together ineffective).

Dr. Phil incorporates some of the dimensions of health when he is dealing with guests who are considering or have had plastic surgery. He is wise not to simply focus on the most widely recognized, physical, dimension of health, and instead, often incorporates the underlying factors that affect our state of physical, mental and social well-being. Dr. Phil stresses to his guests that they cannot change something on the inside by changing something on the outside. If a guest suffers from some sort of mental illness or lives in an abusive environment, losing weight or having plastic surgery will not change those non-physical dimensions of health. Not only do I appreciate Dr. Phil’s attention to the hidden levels of health and wellness, I also think he speaks directly to the discussions that we have been having in HE 120 regarding the components of health and dimensions of wellness.

There are six components of health that Dianne Hales describes in An Invitation to Health: physical, psychological, social, intellectual, environmental, and spiritual. Though the dimensions of wellness aren’t exactly the same as the components of health of health, as concepts, they both incorporate overlapping elements. The dimensions of wellness are physical, social, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Wellness is a way of life and a process of achieving a purposeful living that involves the integration of health, as soundness in mind, body and spirit. I try to be open-minded, so I am wiling to consider each of the dimensions of health and wellness, as well as to analyze the role that each dimension plays in my life. I don’t have time to analyze each dimension in this paper, but I will address a dimension that particularly strikes my curiosity—spiritual health. I grew up as a member of the Catholic Church, and in fact, was very much immersed in religiosity during my childhood. When I came out to my parents as a lesbian, both my comfort with the Catholic Church and religion in general changed drastically. Slowly, I have come to be skeptical of the concept of “God,” believing it to be a mythological creation made by men (hence the popular conceptions of God as Father). I understand that many people, including myself, see it as more or less than that, but it emphasizes the central sources of my skepticism.

Though I have tried to hold on to some connection to a goddess, I don’t have any strong belief about “God” or the existence of a god. If anything, I believe in “God” as an energy source in the world. For me, spirituality is manifest in the intimate relationships I have with my family and my partner; it is an outlook in life, a desire and practice of kindness and appreciation. While I am not always conscious of spirituality in my life, I believe that, in whatever form it may assume, spirituality is, indeed, an integral part of my life. Listening to and singing along with music, taking a bath, looking at beautiful tree, and reflecting on my day before falling asleep are all rituals that strengthen my spiritual health. But most of all, I feel a strong sense of spirituality when I give love and express gratitude to the world and its energies for the pleasures that I have had the privilege of experiencing.

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