Advertisement

Philosophia

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 95–110 | Cite as

Can I Be Ill and Happy?

  • Havi CarelEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Can one be ill and happy? I use a phenomenological approach to provide an answer to this question, using Merleau-Ponty’s distinction between the biological and the lived body. I begin by discussing the rift between the biological body and the ill person’s lived experience, which occurs in illness. The transparent and taken for granted biological body is problematised by illness, which exposes it as different from the lived experience of this body. I argue that because of this rift, the experience of illness cannot be captured within a naturalistic view and propose to supplant this view with a phenomenological approach. The latter approach accounts for changes in the ill person’s relationship to her social and physical world. These changes, I argue, cannot be captured by a naturalistic perspective. I then propose the notion of health within illness as a useful concept for capturing the experience of well-being reported by some ill people. I present empirical evidence for this phenomenon and assess its philosophical significance. Finally, I suggest that adaptability and creativity are two common positive responses to illness, demonstrating that health within illness is possible. The three elements combined – the transformed body, health within illness and adaptability and creativity – serve as the basis for a positive answer to the question posed above.

Keywords

Happiness Illness Well-being Phenomenology Naturalism Disease Boorse Fulford Health within illness Chronic illness Medicine 

References

  1. Amundson, R. (1992). Disability, handicap and the environment. Journal of Social Philosophy, 23(1), 105–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benner, P. (1990). The moral dimension of caring. In J. S. Stevenson & T. Tripp-Reimer (Eds.), Knowledge about care and caring. Kansas City: American Academy of Nursing.Google Scholar
  3. Boorse, C. (1997). A rebuttal on health. In J. Humber & R. Almeder (Eds.), What is disease? (pp. 3–134) New Jersey: Humana.Google Scholar
  4. Bury, M. (1982). Chronic illness as biographical disruption. Sociology of Health and Illness, 4(2), 125–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Charmaz, K. (1983). Loss of self: A fundamental form of suffering in the chronically Ill. Sociology of health and illness, 5(2), 168–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cooper, R. (2002). Disease. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 33, 263–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cornwell, J. (1984). Hard earned lives: Accounts of health and illness from east London. London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  8. Freud, S. (1985 [1916]). On transience. In Art and Literature. The Penguin Freud Library, (vol. 14, pp. 287–290). London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  9. Fulford, K. W. M. (1993). Praxis makes perfect: Illness as a bridge between biological concepts of disease and social concepts of health. Theoretical Medicine, 14, 305–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  11. Gunderman, R. (2000). Illness as failure: Blaming patients. Hastings Centre Report, 30(4), 7–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Heidegger, M. (1962 [1927]). Being and time. London: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  13. Kempen, G. I. (1997). Adaptive responses among Dutch elderly: The impact of eight chronic medical conditions on health-related quality of life. American Journal of Public Health, 87(1), 38–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lindsey, E. (1996). Health within illness: Experiences of chronically ill/disabled people. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 24, 465–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Matson, R. R., & Brooks, N. A. (1977). Adjusting to multiple sclerosis: An exploratory study. Social Science and Medicine, 11, 245–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962 [1945]). Phenomenology of perception. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Michael, S. R. (1996). Integrating chronic illness into one’s life. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 14(3), 251–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Moch, S. D. (1989). Health within illness: Conceptual evolution and practical possibilities. Advances in Nursing Science, 11(4), 23–31.Google Scholar
  19. Nordeson, A., Engström B., & Norberg A. (1998). Self-reported quality of life for patients with progressive neurological diseases. Quality of Life Research, 7(3), 257–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ohman, M., Soderberg, S., & Lundman, B. (2003). Hovering between suffering and enduring: The meaning of living with serious chronic illness. Qualitative Health Research, 13(4), 528–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Parse, R. R. (1990). Health: A personal commitment. Nursing Science Quarterly, 3, 136–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Scarry, E. (1985). The body in pain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Sartre, J. P. (1956 [1943]). Being and nothingness. New York: Washington Square Press.Google Scholar
  24. Sherbourne, C. J., Meredith L. S., Rogers, W., & Ware, J. E. (1992). Social support and stressful life events: age differences in their effects on health-related quality of life among the chronically ill. Quality of Life Research, 1(4), 235–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Stuifbergen, A. K., Becker, H. A., Ingalsbe, K. & Sands, D. (1990). Perceptions of health among adults with disabilities. Health Values, 14(2), 18–26.Google Scholar
  26. Svenaeus, F. (2000a). Das unheimliche – Towards a phenomenology of illness. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 3, 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Svenaeus, F. (2000b). The body uncanny – Further steps towards a phenomenology of illness. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 3, 125–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Thorne, S., Paterson, B., Acorn, S., Canam, C., Joachim G., Jillings, C. (2002). Chronic illness experience: Insights from a metastudy. Qualitative Health Research, 12(4), 437–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Toombs, S. K. (1988). Illness and the paradigm of lived body. Theoretical Medicine, 9, 201–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Toombs, S. K. (1990). The temporality of illness: Four levels of experience. Theoretical Medicine, 11, 227–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Toombs, S. K. (1995). The lived experience of disability. Human Studies, 18, 9–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Toombs, S. K. (2001). Handbook of Phenomenology and Medicine. The Netherlands: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  33. West-Eberhard, M. J. (1992). Adaptation. In E. F. Keller & E. A. Lloyd (Eds.), Keywords in evolutionary biology (pp. 12–15). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Williams, S. J. (1999). Is anybody there? Critical realism, chronic illness and the disability debate. Sociology of Health and Illness, 21(6), 797–819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Williams, S. J. (2003). Bodily dys-order: Chronic illness as biographical disruption? In Medicine and the Body (pp. 95–111). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  36. Young, I. M. (1990). Throwing like a girl and other essays in feminist philosophy and social theory. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of HLSSUniversity of the West of EnglandBristolUK

Personalised recommendations