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Author Topic: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?  (Read 4254 times)

Offline pantodragon

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A couple with the genetic condition known as “albinism” (it is no longer permitted to refer to them as “albinos”) were guests on a radio programme today.  The discussion centred round their decision to have a child, despite the risk that it could inherit the condition.  As it happened, their baby did inherit the condition. 

During the discussion, however, the mother was several times referred to as having given birth to a healthy baby.  This is a new definition of health with which I am unfamiliar. It worries me because if I take it on board, I will be disinclined to feel disconcerted if I turn white, possibly even if I turn yellow. 

There is a growing trend to redefine “health” to include conditions which have formerly been considered to be, in some sense or another, unhealthy.  It raises the question: how should one define health (or healthy)?

In the natural world, an animal is healthy, more or less, if it is fit to survive.  The definitions of health that are now being applied to the human world include those who are unfit to survive, or unable to survive without assistance. 

My concern here is that these lax definitions are breeding mental attitudes that do not help to maintain health.


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #1 on: 09/02/2013 18:41:45 »
By your definition, there are no healthy babies.
I, for example, was born with a  genetic predisposition to shortsightedness.


 

Offline RD

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #2 on: 09/02/2013 19:19:10 »
(it is no longer permitted to refer to them as “albinos”)

Is it so unreasonable that people object to be defined by their medical condition, and prefer to be viewed as a person with a medical condition : they are more than their disease.

 

 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #3 on: 09/02/2013 19:28:40 »
It is particularly difficult in separating pathology from the aging process. What is a disease or disorder, and what are normal, expected changes, and is normal the same as healthy? Is it normal to have atherosclerosis or osteoarthritis when you are old? The difference between disease and aging seems partially dependent on whether something can be prevented or controlled, which is likely to change as scientific and medical knowledge progresses.

Abnormal isn't the same as pathological, though. Only 10 percent of people are left handed, but it's not associated with any disfunction.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #4 on: 09/02/2013 19:37:18 »
Almost every species of animals have albinos, many of which survive in nature.

If albinism is recessive.  Then, if both parents have the same genotype of the condition, the child must also have the condition, unless the parents were "fooling around".  So, it is not a chance to inherit the condition...  it will be inherited.  I suppose the only way it would not be inherited is if it was a recessive condition in 2 different genes, and the two parents had different types of the condition, then they could potentially have a normal child.  Genetic testing would confirm the cause of albinism and which genes are affected.

In humans, an albino infant could be healthy, even if it has an increased risk of sunburns and skin cancer, and light intolerance with the eyes.  There is good suntan lotion.  And, albino parents could teach their children what they have chosen for their own lifestyle.

It never hurts to be UNIQUE when in a crowd, unless, of course, one wishes to remain anonymous.

As medicine improves, there are several genetic disorders that could be selected for or against. 
Sickle Cell Anemia
Huntington's Disease
etc.

I don't envy the parents who are forced to make the decision of natural conception vs insemination/adoption because of genetic conditions...  or what to do if a genetic disorder is detected prenatally. 

Also, keep in mind that many people contribute to society even if they lie outside of the "norm".
 

Offline RD

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #5 on: 09/02/2013 20:14:21 »
... Only 10 percent of people are left handed, but it's not associated with any disfunction.
Left handedness is associated with an increased incidence of schizophrenia ... http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6923577.stm

http://www.nytimes.com/1983/04/19/science/some-disorders-appear-to-be-linked-to-being-left-handed.html?pagewanted=all
« Last Edit: 09/02/2013 20:19:05 by RD »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #6 on: 09/02/2013 21:55:49 »
Here is a great article about Lefties...  and potential risks and benefits.

They may be more accident prone, but it may also be in part due to many tools being designed for right handed individuals. 

However, left handedness may be advantageous to musicians and mathematicians.  It may also confer an advantage of being "different" in sports, and thus their opponents may not be as proficient competing with lefties as the rest of the population.

I would wonder if left handed people would be better at writing Hebrew or Arabic than right handed individuals???
 

Offline Minerva

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #7 on: 09/02/2013 23:43:02 »
I find Hebrew easier to write and I am right handed.....when I say easier I mean its much neater than my written (native) English.  My left handed German flatmate found Hebrew easier because she said her hand wasn't dragged through the writing as it was written but she had to write with the page at an angle whereas when writing German she had the page straight.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #8 on: 10/02/2013 21:23:09 »
... Only 10 percent of people are left handed, but it's not associated with any disfunction.
Left handedness is associated with an increased incidence of schizophrenia ... http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6923577.stm

http://www.nytimes.com/1983/04/19/science/some-disorders-appear-to-be-linked-to-being-left-handed.html?pagewanted=all

Probably, but sometimes it seems like everything is associated with an increase chance of schizophrenia. Being born in the winter months is associated with an increase chance of schizophrenia. Pot smoking when you're young is associated with an increased chance of schizophrenia. Being a new immigrant in a country with a very different culture is associated with an increase chance of schizophrenia.
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #9 on: 10/02/2013 21:33:12 »
Here is a great article about Lefties...  and potential risks and benefits.

They may be more accident prone, but it may also be in part due to many tools being designed for right handed individuals. 

However, left handedness may be advantageous to musicians and mathematicians.  It may also confer an advantage of being "different" in sports, and thus their opponents may not be as proficient competing with lefties as the rest of the population.

I would wonder if left handed people would be better at writing Hebrew or Arabic than right handed individuals???

I've read that one. This is pretty cool too:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120425140457.htm

Its premise is that the percentage of left handers is related to the balance of competition or cooperation in a species.

" 'The more social the animal -- where cooperation is highly valued -- the more the general population will trend toward one side,' said Abrams, an assistant professor of engineering sciences and applied mathematics at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. 'The most important factor for an efficient society is a high degree of cooperation. In humans, this has resulted in a right-handed majority.' "

"If societies were entirely cooperative everyone would be same-handed, Abrams said. But if competition were more important, one could expect the population to be 50-50. The new model can predict accurately the percentage of left-handers in a group -- humans, parrots, baseball players, golfers -- based on the degrees of cooperation and competition in the social interaction."

(I did not know there were left handed parrots. Learn something every day.)
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #10 on: 11/02/2013 16:05:21 »
By your definition, there are no healthy babies.
I, for example, was born with a  genetic predisposition to shortsightedness.

If you've read many of my posts, it will come as no surprise that I doubt if there are any healthy babies born nowadays -- this is the price one pays for becoming addicted to power; I've said elsewhere, and I stick by it: society is degenerating, people are becoming ever sicker: APOCALYPSE NOW.
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #11 on: 11/02/2013 16:15:43 »


Is it so unreasonable that people object to be defined by their medical condition, and prefer to be viewed as a person with a medical condition : they are more than their disease.

 


In a recent conversation I was referring to somebody I knew but did not know the person's name.  I did know the person was French, so, in the first instance, I said, "The French woman".  The other conversants looked askance at me.  Apparently I had sinned in that I had not identified the person as an individual but rather by her nationality. 

Working with a class of teenagers, none of whom I knew, I had to quickly identify an individual.  To do so I referred to him as "That boy over there with the red hair".  This was followed by a shocked silence.

This is all games playing nonsense.  This is people exercising power.  It is just SO inconvenient.  It is just SO natural, and there is no hint of prejudice, to identify a person you do not know by their most obvious feature.  So why make such a big thing of it?  One could even go so far as to say: why not show a little self-respect and be proud of who one is, whatever that may be.
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #12 on: 11/02/2013 16:21:29 »


Also, keep in mind that many people contribute to society even if they lie outside of the "norm".

The point I was trying to make is that one MUST know what "healthy" is.  If I do not know what "healthy" is, how do I know when I am unhealthy?  And if I do not know when I am unhealthy, I will not know when to take action to recover health; I also will not be able to make any connections between ill-health and the things that cause ill-health, therefore I will not be able to avoid things that cause ill-health.  And if the medical profession are similarly confused about what "health" is......well, do I need to spell it out?
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #13 on: 11/02/2013 16:24:57 »


Probably, but sometimes it seems like everything is associated with an increase chance of schizophrenia. Being born in the winter months is associated with an increase chance of schizophrenia. Pot smoking when you're young is associated with an increased chance of schizophrenia. Being a new immigrant in a country with a very different culture is associated with an increase chance of schizophrenia.

Yes, statistics is the devil.  You can find connections all over the place, but cause and effect is quite another matter.  So, any medical science that is based on statistics and only statistics is invalid.  Unfortunately, I have a suspicion that more and more, medical science is taking refuge in statistics and has no notion of cause and effect.
 

Offline pantodragon

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #14 on: 11/02/2013 16:30:01 »


"If societies were entirely cooperative everyone would be same-handed, Abrams said. But if competition were more important, one could expect the population to be 50-50. The new model can predict accurately the percentage of left-handers in a group -- humans, parrots, baseball players, golfers -- based on the degrees of cooperation and competition in the social interaction."


This is wrong.  If the quote above i.e. 10% of the population are left handed, then competition produces 10% left handedness  --  we live in a competitive society so our society shows what happens in a competitive society.  As to cooperation, scientists do not understand what cooperation is; they confuse cooperation with teamwork.  This is totally wrong.  Cooperation is something quite different, something far more fundamental and in a cooperative society, there would be no preference between left and right handedness.  Just what the percentages would end up as, I do not know, but it's more likely to be 50-50 than 100%.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #15 on: 12/02/2013 11:03:31 »
I would suggest that as medicine improves, there are several genetic disorders that one day could be corrected:
  • Cystic Fibrosis (probably the most common lethal mutation in Western populations)
  • Sickle Cell Anemia (a common lethal mutation in African populations)
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Albinism
  • etc
...and in the process, we may discover what hidden benefit some of these mutations brought, which allowed them to become so common in the population (some have suggested that the first two may confer some disease resistance, such as to tuberculosis and malaria - but at a high cost).
 

Offline RD

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #16 on: 12/02/2013 11:54:07 »
... I doubt if there are any healthy babies born nowadays ... people are becoming ever sicker

And yet in reality people live longer and there are more of them.

Reproduction is a measure of health: that Earth has never been more populated by human beings is evidence that your assertion is incorrect*.

http://www.theglobaleducationproject.org/earth/image.php?image=g-pop-growth-chart-map.gif&title=human%20population

Similarly human life expectancy is a measure of health and has increased considerably in recent centuries due to scientific discoveries ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy#Life_expectancy_variation_over_time


[* Whether the planet can sustain this level of human population growth is another matter ]
« Last Edit: 12/02/2013 12:05:14 by RD »
 

Offline JP

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
« Reply #17 on: 12/02/2013 13:18:20 »
Locked for being cross-posted.
 

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Re: Are we losing our grasp of the meaning of health?
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