While reading chapter 14, I was not surprised that the veterans who went overseas tended to get sick and pass away shortly after returning home, more so than those veterans who stayed in the United States. The veterans who traveled overseas were not only risking their lives but they were also living in a new place away from their families. These men were homesick, in an unfamiliar culture, stressed, and in great danger. I think the biggest difference in longevity between John and Phillip had more to do with their roles in the war and not so much where they were stationed. John was doing intelligence work, and was not in immediate danger, whereas Philip was immersed in combat. I would imagine that the men who were in combat would be more likely to develop psychopathological disorders such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders, more so than the men who were not on the battlefield.
A possible explanation for why less conscientious Phillip was more likely to fight in the Pacific than his conscientious counterpart John, is because he may be more likely to make risky decisions. Phillip may not have thought through the implications of going overseas to fight in the Pacific, whereas conscientious John may have weighed the benefits and risks and consequently decided to go into intelligence in England.
A theme that I have seen reappear while reading this book is how longevity depends significantly on how you appraise a situation. For instance, if you find war to be meaningful and worthwhile, then you are less likely to go down an unhealthy pathway, such as substance abuse once you return.
I agree with chapter 15, how our society is so quick to receive medical attention and be prescribed a pill. Often times a kid reports symptoms of a cold and you will see a parent immediately bring the child in for care. I grew up with a mom who was a big advocate for rest and hydration instead of immediately seeking medical attention. As a result, I do not like to overmedicate myself. When I am sick I will certainly take medicine that will cure what I may have, but that is not my first choice. I will first try to rest, eat well, and hydrate before I turn to pills. Our culture seeks immediate gratification, and due to this we look for the quickest fix, in this case medication.
A main point I took away from reading this book is how there are so many different perspectives to health and how we have to view health from a biopsychosocial model. There is not just one factor that pertains to health, but a whole host of different components. Health is such an individualized concept and health varies from person to person. Of course we all have a general idea of how to remain healthy: don’t smoke, exercise, and eat well, but health is so much more than that. It is your career, your interpersonal relationships, your personality, your happiness, your traumatic experiences, and how you handle stress. Although I found this book to be frustrating at times, it helped me gauge my own health, and made me consider the pathways of my friends and family. While reading I also noticed patterns in who I tend to surround myself with and how those relationships are beneficial to my own health.
The chapter begins by stating that many of health’s most recommended practices are misguided. This book concludes that many of these recommendations are actually not accurate and may lead people astray. While advice to exercise, lose weight, sleep enough, wear sunscreen, eat right, avoid drugs, and take prescribed medicine is recommended, doctors expect longevity to decrease because people are failing to follow these medical recommendations. I think some people may underestimate the benefit of eating healthy, working out, and receiving enough sleep. I know for me when I follow these practices, other healthy behaviors follow.
The findings in this book are being tested again by other researchers and participants. It will be exciting to see if these findings are consistent with past results. The most recent evidence does in fact suggest that the findings from the Terman studies are relevant to health today, which is good because then this book is still relevant to read!
I thought it was interesting how we put too much emphasis on our biology and genes, and how in fact the experiences of our relatives is not a good predictor of our own health. I tend to not agree with this just by looking at my own family. I tend to see trends across my relatives. My grandmother is 90 years old and does not have any apparent health issues, and this trend follows in her six daughters. All of my aunts are particularly healthy and do not have any health concerns. While in other families you can see obesity, substance abuse, and unhealthy eating patterns consistent across generations.
I agree with the conclusion that a society with more conscientious and goal-oriented citizens, well integrated into their communities, is likely to be a society of health and long life. I think the book did a good job of supporting this conclusion in every chapter. After reading this book I have definitely reflected on my own health and ways that I could improve