One of the issues I keep considering is why our culture thinks disease is wrong. We should never feel badly. However, I think to really look at that question I need to ask the question, “What is Disease?”
Dis-ease, spelled like this suggests that disease is anything that prevents us from ease. By this definition, it suggests that our very life style could be the disease from which we suffer. Work prevents us from relaxation. Worries prevent us from just being. We are always moving from goal to the next.
There have been changes in what defines disease or sickness from the medical profession as well. There is an entire book that chronicles how shyness became a disease. I was always a shy child. I was very introverted. I did fine with children I knew well but did not initiate making new friends. When I grew up that was in the range of normal. Today I might be labeled as having social anxiety disorder. Pharmaceuticals might be prescribed. These interventions are supposed to make me happier. As an introverted person who has created a good life for myself, I can only imagine the trouble such interventions might have caused me. In fact, those very interventions that were supposed to make me happier, may actually have prevented my life from taking a very satisfying course.
As a woman, as I age, I am coming towards another potential disease filled time. Menopause was once a very normal process that all women went through. Now, those discomforts are considered a pathology.
Let’s now consider “new” diseases. What about people who are allergic to latex? Is this a disease if in the course of life 200 years ago no one would ever know about such a disease because no one would encounter latex? Can that be a disease?
What about those people with multiple allergies to chemicals that are commonly used. Perhaps they are allergic to perfumes and to latex and an assortment of manmade items. Are these people really suffering from a disease or from our culture?
At what point does an individual difference or sensitivity become a disease? At what point do these people have to be the ones treated rather than the world we all live in?