Reaction to my last post revealed that few are ready to let health die with dignity and rest in peace. Fair enough. But despite impassioned attachment it’s not apparent why health, in its dying throes, must attain a semi-hubristic status; or why the jettisoning of health is so threatening to humans; or why we no longer think about health we instead believe in it.
Why indeed when robustness offers so much hope together with life enhancing features. It is a message people living with disabilities understand. A robust person can be subjected to a variety of externally and/or internally unpredictable alarms and still maintain the integrity to manage them and acquire learnings for future similar situations. This capacity to identify and deal with challenges is living and breathing in each of us and should be continually activating our brains.
Human robustness is no panacea. Unlike the mechanistic notion of robustness where machines are built to precision and improbability is minimised, humans are not very good at protecting against uncertainty. When subjected to unpredictable circumstances, whether internally or externally generated we don’t always respond in ways that maintain our integrity. Rather than adapt we strive for the unattainable health.
This is why health must die. Because it is suffocating robustness.
In the treatment of serious cancer clinicians no longer look for a return to neither prior health nor cure as options of treatment. Amelioration of symptoms and prolongation of functionality are more realistic outcomes. Acceptance of these circumstances is the cornerstone of modern cancer care, as cancer survivors continually attest.
And acceptance of non-linear pathways between disease and outcome is a strengthening research position that furthers our understanding about why things happen. Robust research results in the generation of intelligent outcomes based on adaptive capabilities; it is sympathetic to the syncopated outcomes that can no longer be dichotomised into health and illness.
Health is hard to jettison, let alone replace with a less all-encompassing notion such as robustness. Perhaps the mental block is that unlike health, robustness requires more than blind faith. It does not occur overnight. We need to use our brains to develop it and remember that belief and action, in that order, are the basic tools required to live robust lives.