In Chapter 14, the researchers outlined the health issues that could arise from traumas of war. They emphasized that stress is a good thing for one’s health until the body cannot settle back down and keeps revving up; that is when health is compromised. They found that trauma from war causes emotional distance as well as depression. Men are much more likely to increase their drinking and drug use after experiencing warlike trauma. Additionally, they found that those who went overseas to a more alien, disturbing location were more likely to become ill and pass away earlier. This could be attributed to the fact that those who have poorer mental health lived shorter lives. This reminds me of my grandfather. He was in World War II and earned a Purple Heart after being in a highly traumatic situation. Upon returning, he became an alcoholic who abused my grandmother and suffered from PTSD and depression. He died when my dad was only 20 years old. If he had not experienced the traumas of war, who knows if he would have been the same mentally ill man he became.
Chapter 15 outlined how one can individually impact their health. To begin with, I disagree that one should choose a path that is less suited to their individual lives in order to pursue longevity. I would rather be happy in the years that I have than to alter my lifestyle to live longer and, ultimately, be upset. The researchers also mentioned a bad idea of a “polypill”. The idea is that developers are making a pill that would overall improve mental health. I am very against this. I believe in therapy to get to the root of the issue before seeking medication. I do not think taking a pill every day to make yourself feel better without also going to therapy is unhealthy. It is avoiding the problem, making one rely on medication for the rest of their lives. They mentioned the new term “wellness” as being one way to counter this medicated world we live in. I do not think that one’s health should be dictated by how many medications they can seek out to get to the ideal mental state. Everyone deals with issues in their own way. There is no one way to deal with sadness, trauma, stress, etc. Therefore, the idea of overall wellness is, in my opinion, unhealthy and wrong.
The Epilogue, unlike the other sections, was one of the most positive and least contradictory of the book. They said that most of the beliefs held by society in regards to health are misguided. I believe this to be true based on the overwhelming amount of obese and unhealthy Americans today. Additionally, they said that we overestimate the importance of family biology. I believe this is true. Many people, knowing that a disease or condition runs in their family, will overcompensate for the possibility of them getting this disease and then ignore other aspects of health. As we learned in class, the researchers emphasized how health lists do not work. Just telling a person that they need to “be healthier” is not the way to go about a healthier life. Health has to be a holistic picture. One thing that I strongly disagreed with in the Epilogue was the final suggestion. The researchers stressed that a society with clean air, water, and food along with good schools and safe streets where all the members are more conscientious and goal-oriented is the way to a healthier society. However, this is easier said than done. Most parts of the country live in poverty where clean amenities are not easy to come by along with good schools where the citizens feel safe. Therefore, I thought by saying that this was the solution, the researchers were being inconsiderate to the lower classes.