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Health-disease process


What do we talk about when we talk about health? What do we talk about when we talk about disease? Are we totally healthy? Are we totally sick? Can we be healthy and sick at the same time? These are some of the questions we ask ourselves when talking about health and disease. But the health-disease process is much more complex than it appears, since it includes the interrelation between three major disciplines that study the human being: biology, psychology and sociology.

Throughout this article we will try to answer those questions that concern us so much about health and disease from different perspectives.

Historical point of view of the health-disease process

During the Paleolithic era it was conceived that the loss of health and consequently, the contraction of the Disease was caused by spirits, supernatural agents and sorcerers. The disease was seen as the bad and the transgressor. Being sick was synonymous with guilt and punishment from the gods; As a result of this, there was an intimate relationship with rituals and religious beliefs.

Hippocrates in the V century BC changes that conception of disease, by stating that disease is the cause of earthly realities, and not a curse or punishment from the gods .

We understand that the health-disease concept depends on culture; because this is what provides the pattern that defines the way of being or being healthy.

In the past, doctors entered hospices once a day, since they were in the hands of religious personnel, but as time went by, medicine gained space in the health field until it became a hegemonic and dominant discipline when it came to telling us whether we are and / or we are or are not healthy or sick.

Biopsychosocial model of the health-disease process

There are different theories or currents of thought that tell us how to be healthy or sick, or what is healthy and what is sick; but positioning ourselves from the paradigm of complexity,  we understand health and disease as a continuous process, where one pole does not exist without the other, that is, we are never completely healthy or completely sick.

Taking this health-disease process as a continuum implies approaching the human being in its complexity , taking biological, psychological and social aspects, without remaining in a dichotomous reductionism where only the psychological, social or biological is addressed separately.

When we speak of taking the human being in its complexity, we try the opposite of a dichotomous reductionism, that is, we try to interrelate the different levels of analysis, in this case bio-psycho-social. If we position ourselves in front of a human being, we will see these three levels interacting with each other to give rise to that subject in a situation.

In this sense, different disciplines are in charge of different parts of this being that is so complex; for example, psychology deals with the psychological, the medicine of the biological, the sociology of the social, among many other disciplines that take the human being as an object of study. For this reason, to address a little of this vast field of study , multidisciplinary work is important , where together different disciplines construct and deconstruct the continuous process between health and disease.

What is health?

Due to the great power struggles between disciplines throughout history, we are often left with the concept that medicine is synonymous with health , which is a serious mistake.

In 1946 the WHO defined health as  a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not only in the absence of disease.

A deeper definition of health proposes that health is comprised of a combination of physical, psychological and social states, where the harmony and synchronization of these states provides the total well-being of the human being.

Health has long been misinterpreted in society, misrepresented by the media and distorted to be used as a synonym for thinness or physical strength. It was believed that health could only be studied by medicine, since it was only related to physical well-being. For example, years ago if we had back pain and we went to the doctor, perhaps he would tell us to take a muscle relaxant that will make the pain go away.

Today, thanks to the incorporation of new study methods in the field of medicine and multidisciplinary work, the doctor can inquire more about our health. You can ask us questions to investigate whether the underlying cause of the pain is only physical or is there some social or emotional factor causing it. If we tell you that we are going through a stressful situation due to a complicated situation, it may send us a muscle relaxant, but it may also encourage us to visit a mental health professional to treat our emotional problem, since more medications They are taken, if the emotional problem is not elucidated and resolved, the pain will hardly stop.

You may also be interested in:   How to overcome sadness?

On the other hand, the pain could be caused by the environment, because if we are living in a society where conditions enable the suffering of certain clinical pictures, we will always be more prone to suffer them.

Here we find three responses to the same pain , therefore it is important to think and think of ourselves as beings in continuous movement , changing beings, where one is neither only sick nor only healthy.

Health types

When we talk about health we refer to three different types related to each other: physical, psychological and social health.

Physical Health

Physical health is the state of body structures and systems. This consists of the proper functioning of the body. 
When physical health is not in homeostasis, signs and symptoms are experienced internally and externally. These signs and symptoms can include pain or anything that manifests itself physically inside and outside the body.

Psychological, mental or emotional health

Psychological health or mental health refers to the condition of the mind and its ability to balance emotions and feelings. This includes responses to stress , to everyday situations, and to our awareness of our own feelings.

Some people called “insane” may be aware of their poor mental health but their unwillingness makes them unwilling to heal.

Social health

Like all human beings, we thrive on connections with others, as we are a global community and we need daily interactions to feel satisfied. Social health involves the quality of our social relationships and the types of relationships present in our life. These types of relationships include: family , friends, coworkers, partner, etc. All the members of our environment have an impact on our social health.

It is known that socialization and bonding correspond to one of the needs of the human being to achieve personal development, since we cannot prosper in isolation; we need emotional and physical support to be satisfied.

What is disease?

As with health, disease can be divided according to the multidisciplinary approach of three disciplines: biology, psychology and sociology.

From the biological point of view, the disease can be defined as a pathological process or a deviation from a biological norm. Sometimes illness can be seen as a feeling, an unhealthy experience that is completely personal and internal, and cannot always be described in words.

While inherited diseases are common, there are many behavioral and psychological factors that can affect overall physical well-being, causing what we call illness.

The disease is also a social role ; A state; a categorization that responds to social prejudices , between the person – from now on called “sick” – and the environment. As is the case in society – where the person with the highest social status is the one that matters most – each “sick person” is placed in a different category according to the degree of their disease, therefore, the possession of the disease does not guarantee equity within it. For example, those with a fatal illness rank higher on the disease scale, followed by those with a chronic illness, who are much less safe than those with an acute illness and those with a psychiatric illness.

Health Psychology

The field of health psychology focuses on both health promotion and disease prevention and treatment. This branch of psychology is in charge of predisposing spaces that are in favor of motivation for health care and the early arrest of psychosocial risk factors for diseases, promoting their modification, and fundamentally trying to be able to sustain that space and what from him accrues.

As more people seek to control their own health, more people seek health-related information and resources. Health psychologists focus on educating people about their own health and well-being, so they are perfectly suited to meet this growing demand.

The role of the health psychologist is to understand how people react to, cope with, and recover from illness. It also contributes to the progress of the health care system and to changing the social outlook of the disease.

Undoubtedly, understanding the processes of health, being aware of the functioning and the relationship between our body and our mind, will give us the necessary knowledge to stay in harmony with ourselves and enjoy full health.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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