chapter  5
9 Pages

Health: an elusive concept

The quest for happiness is open-ended, boundless even. The W H O ’s 1948 definition was m eant both as an idea and as an ideal to inspire and to go beyond the m erely negative definitions of health. It states an aspiration, a global ideal, and affirms the positive sense which many cultures have w anted to give to the idea of health. In antiquity, for example, the story of Pandora’s box, of Hesiod’s Golden Race or the expulsion from the Garden of Eden in the Bible all present ideas of a time without illness, a place of perfect health. H ealth and happiness, im m ortality and lack of toil came together in images of what was lost. A vision of health , ease and nature in harmony, which is also to be found in other myths of a world lost or of one to gain, an Arcadia or a Utopia. ‘Physical m ental and social well-being’ spell out the components of a much later, but ra ther similar, holistic vision. Certainly, if health requires social well-being, it m ust depend also on values and m ust vary by culture and ethnicity. People in many societies have conceived of health in generally holistic ideal term s.