r.e. Construction of Health

David Vogel (dvogel@dhhs.state.nh.us)
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 18:04:41 -0500

Uri (& anyone willing to engage on this):

I'm thrilled to see that your working on this issue. I will have to take
some time to try to recall some precisely relevant citations. For the
moment, let me offer some of my own lines of inquiry on this (I have this
"unhealthy" impulse to just jump into this one).

My first constructivist teachers (Nietzsche via some translators, and
people working in the organismic developmental tradition), led me to see
"health" as one of a number of powerful vehicles for smuggling fundamental
teleological notions, concealed beneath layers of observation and fact.
Other similar term inc lude "development" and "progress." I addressed this
in the opening (and less controverial) pages of of the '96 PCP paper for
which I took so much heat. I think you have a copy, if not, I can email
you (or anyone else) a copy of the relevant pages.

Such concepts have a rhetorical force on how we perceive society and
ourselves (e.g. I construe my self as having impulse "x" impulse, and
construe impulse "x" as unhealthy, regressive, age inappropriate or
otherwise bad and I experience myself as having unhelathy/bad impulses).
Here, the social construction of "health," "progress," and "development"
(or my construction of it) impacts my self construal. Therefore, I think
the better known work on progress ("The idea of Progress") and devolopment
is conceptually relevant, as is work on the opposite of health (e.g.
Sander Gilman's work on "Difference and Pathology," including the book by
that name).

David Vogel