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Chapter 1

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PSYC 3110
Kieran O' Doherty

Part 1: Health Psychology: An introduction p. 3-12, 16-22. What do we mean by health? - the world health is derived from Old High German and Anglo-Saxon words meaning whole, hale and holy - links exist between health, wholeness, holiness, hygiene, cleanliness, sanitariness, sanity, goodness and godliness - emphasis on health as wholeness and naturalness was present in ancient China and classical Greece where health was seen as a state of harmony, balance or equilibrium with nature - there are also associations with such words as disease, disorder, illness, insanity, evil etc. - Galen (early Roman physician) followed the Hippocratic tradition in believing that hygieia (health) or euexia (soundness) occur when there is a balance between the four humours of the body: black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood o he believed that the body’s ‘constitution’, ‘temperament’ or ‘state’ could be put out of equilibrium by excessive heat, cold, dryness or wetness o such imbalances might be caused by fatigue, insomnia, distress, anxiety or eating the wrong quality or quantity of food o this theory was closely related to the 4 elements: earth, fire, water and air o some common beliefs are the descendants of early Greek and Roman theories of medicine - its almost impossible to find a single definition of health - in 1946 the World Health Organization defined health as: the state of complete physical , social and spiritual well-being, not simply the absence of illness o this misses the key elements of human helath and well-being (psychological, cultural and economic aspects should be included) - psychological processes, behavior, cognition, imagination, emotion are all mediators of health experience in different ways - these processes are all embedded in out social interactions with others - spiritual well-being for many is a primary element of what it means to be human - Definition of ‘health’: Health is a state of well-being with physical, cultural, psychological, economic and spiritual aspects, not simply the absence of illness. o Health is never seen as ‘complete’ – we strive for it Health as need-satisfaction - people struggle to describe the difference between health and illness and what needs to be in place for human beings to thrive, not just survive - Maslow’s hierarchy of needs provides initial guidance (p.7) o Key elements are missing such as agency & autonomy (having the freedom to choose) and spirituality (the feeling that not all of experience is created by the physical world) - Doyal and Gough argue that health and autonomy are the most basic of human needs which are the same for everyone…all humans have a right to optimal need-satisfaction…for this occur…certain societal preconditions – political, economic and ecological – must be fulfilled. 11 intermediate needs: 1) adequate nutritional food and water 2) adequate protective housing 3) a safe environment for working 4) a safe physical environment 5) appropriate health care 6) security in childhood 7) significant primary relationships with others 8) physical security 9) safe birth control and child bearing 10) appropriate basic and cross cultural education - they decide that health can only be defined negatively as the minimization of death, disablement and disease - Seedhouse has another approach defining ‘basic needs’ as food, drink, shelter and warmth and purpose in life - he thinks that the highest importance for all people are: 1) information – access to the widest possible info about all factors which have an influence on a persons life 2) literacy and numeracy skills – people need to be able to understand how the info applies to them and be able to make reasoned decisions about what actions to take in the light of that info 3) sociality – an awareness of a basic duty which follows from living in a community - he suggests that specific foundations for different individual situations depend on living conditions and circumstances - ‘the devil is in the detail’ – there are 4 generic foundations and a set of special foundations tailored to individual circumstances on a case by case basis o any effort at health promotion involves an act of discovery to find out what any individual or group must be given to fill the gap between what they aspire and what they currently have - health policies must be designed for the greater good of all and health services need to work towards improving the lot for everyone – this idealism is hard to implement in real world settings The nature of health psychology - importance of phsyosocial processes in health and illness are increasingly recognized - much research has been conducted to investigate the possible role of stress and psychological characteristics on the onset, course and management of physical illness - health psychologists increasing demand in health care and medical settings - although the primary focus for health psyc has been clinical settings in the past, interest is now directed towards interventions for disease prevention esp with referring to sexual health, nutrition, smoking, alcohol, inactivity and stress - the traditional view of Western societies is an ideology of individualism which views individuals as ‘agents’ who are responsible for their own health - health education has succeeded to a certain degree – there is little room for think
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