The definition of health based on the World Health Association is not just the absence of injury or disability but the wellbeing of both mind and body.
Going back to history we observe that social, financial, technological, ethical, religious and environmental developments tremendously affected the meaning of health. It is proven that health cannot just be defined by bio-medical data but is importantly drafted by the cultural environment in which health innovations were created.
The definition of health differs based on cultural differences, religious and ethical beliefs, education level and the perception that each society forms in relation to body hygiene, limits, appearance, and gender.
A quick flash back to history could prove the above statement:
In the prehistoric era, people believed that the reasons of sickness were bad spirits that intrigued a person’s soul.
Ancient Greece & China During the times of Ancient Greece, logical thinking and the nature-driven theories drove to the creation of Hippocrates philosophy. They were based on the scientific explanation of different phenomenons. In the 5 century b.c. Hippocrates believed that health is the balance between four human liquids: blood, phlegm, yellow gallbladder and black gallbladders and that illness appears when those four are mixed with each other.
At the same time in China philosophers believed that human sickness appears when there is no balance in human body, mind and spirit. The theory of yin and yan and the ultimate balance between the male and the female energy drafted by the universe’s laws became the based of Chinese medicine, and acupuncture.
In the medival times, there was large influence to medicine by the ideas, research and experiments of of Galen. Although, the church was a bad influence at that time because it created the perception that illness is the evil and there are no treatments or remedies that could save a person.
Although during renaissance, science boomed and humans started discovering a tremendous range of inventions and possibilities towards health such as Catesius theory. He believed that body and mind are two separate entities and that the body an extremely genius machine.
By the end of 19th century the bio-inventions drove medicine toward a narrow minded perception about the definition of health. The human body was treated as a machine and health was related with the complete absence of illness. Traditional Medicine itself was not taking in consideration other factors such as mental, and behavioral reactions which are proven to affect human health.
In conclusion we could categorize health if five main periods of development.
1. The Metaphysic – magical period
2. The Metaphysic – Spiritual Period
3. The Naturalistic Period
4. The Scientific Period
5. The Holistic New Age Period
Todays era is a transitional time in the history of health. We tend to doubt the effectiveness of traditional medicine but at the same time we doubt the new age methods as well.
However based the above mentioned theories we could define health as a situation when the human being has the ability to overcome the crisis of illness and to balanced emotional behaviors forming new mindfulness values that present a holistic approach to life.