Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Our unhealthy obsession with sickness

Frank Furedi has a new essay on the Spiked website. He argues that:
The distinguishing feature of the twenty-first century is that health has become a dominant issue, both in our personal lives and in public life.
He suggests four reasons for this dominance:
  • medicalisation - problems we encounter in everyday life are reinterpreted as medical ones;
  • being ill is seen as a normal state, possibly even more normal than being healthy;
  • moral uncertainty - the more ambiguous we feel about what is right and wrong, then the more comfortable we feel using the language of health to make sense of our lives;
  • politicisation (and the collapse of ideology) - politicians who have little by way of beliefs or passions, and don't know what to say to the public, are guaranteed a response if they say something health-related.
Furedi concludes:
Western societies are not going to overcome the crisis of healthcare; it is beyond the realms of possibility. No matter what policies government pursue, or how much money they throw at the problem, even if they increase health expenditure fourfold, the problem will not go away. As long as the normalisation of illness remains culturally affirmed, more and more of us are likely to identify ourselves as sick, and will identify ourselves as sick for a growing period of time. The solution to this problem lies not in the area of policymaking, or even medicine, but in the cultural sphere.
Well worth reading, as ever with Furedi.

No comments: