A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, she has left no leaf unturned to become well (and she is). She changed her diet drastically, took countless alternative treatments, and went to trauma therapy, shamans, and psychologists. It reminded me of my journey with a chronic disease. In both cases, many medical doctors are insufficiently trained to acknowledge the systematic realities of the bodymind, although the research area of psycho-neuro-immunology is changing this.
Yet, the relational reality is left out of our health.
Our health is affected, by pesticides in food, carcinogens in the air, or our capacity to bike instead of driving. How we think about health leaves the individual responsible for managing what is, in many parts, out of our control. It turns individual health into a moral imperative in which individuals are held responsible for their bodies. Obesity, diabetes, addiction, cancer, and other chronic conditions become moral failings. Where in fact, although health centers around the individual, the harms experienced by individuals are harms to collective identities and worlds.