Chapter 14 & 15

The first chapter focuses on how experienced stress and trauma can affect one’s chances for increased morbidity and mortality risk.  The case study on Phillip shows that when working overseas in the Pacific and facing danger from combat, morbidity for chronic illnesses can increase and longevity decreases. He died from a heart attack at such a young age (compared to other Terman subjects).  Furthermore, those who were fighting in the war but in England also had similar futures but at a lesser extreme. This makes sense because even though those men were in a different country, they had social support from those around them (less of a cultural barrier) and had contact with their family, whereas the ones in the Pacific did not.  In addition, the chapter examined how those who were more likely to have depression (which is multifaceted) were more likely to have comorbidities of other illnesses. This past thought is striking to me because in Chapter 1 of our other textbook, we spoke about a concept called “nuclear conflict model” in order to diagnose mental illness. It basically stated that the core features of an individual, such as personality, affected their chances of having a certain illness. It is insightful to be able to connect this through different texts. Even though we also do not really refer to the nuclear conflict model as much anymore, it continues to show up in this text.

Chapter 15 summarizes basically every finding from the study written in the previous chapters. Warning: the next sentence will be pretty long. Basically, in order to live a longer life, we should avoid toxins, radioactivity, and trauma, have great social relations, be conscientious, be successful and take great pride in your work, laugh but not to the point where you avoid good health practices, worry enough about your health to develop health promoting behaviors, maintain a healthy marriage, and be religious. LOL. I hope no one takes anything I said seriously because all of these findings are correlative; we still haven’t figured out whether these findings cause good health! This book has done a great job at showing the preliminary research in longevity but there is still so much work to be done!

One other part of chapter 15 I really disagreed was the beginning when the difference between health and wellness was described and the doctor’s changing role with the patient. Patients are going to the doctor to seek help with issues that are usually resolves with their primary groups (i.e. family and friends). Doctors need to take a biopsychosocial approach in their practice, not the biomedical approach. If patients are going to their doctors to seek help on an issue that relates to their health, doctors should be prepared to help them. I understand that an emphasis was being placed on doctors prescribing pills as a “one solution fits all” treatment and while I do agree with the book in that sense, it is unfair to shine doctors in that light without having a disclaimer of some sort.

I agree with most, if not all, of this section’s content. While some scientists believe that longevity will be decreasing because of rising healthcare costs and patients not taking sound advice from health experts, the authors of this book believe the opposite. The studies performed on the Terman participants are being performed on more diverse populations and the results have remained consistent: this study is still relevant today. In addition, we need to realize that our genetics is not the only predictor of longevity and that we ourselves are responsible for a healthy pathway. I really appreciated it when the authors mentioned how traditional approaches do not work with improving health in today’s age because of the differences in social context. Compared to JFK’s presidency, our population in the States is more diverse than ever and we need different policies to help the vulnerable populations. By creating the right intervention for the right audience, I believe that we become closer to helping those most in danger from a health-related threat.

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