The Wellness Syndrome Essay Example

The Wellness Syndrome Essay Example

The Wellness Syndrome is a critique of the ideology of wellness in society. Today we shouldn’t be anything less than healthy. Wellness is a moral obligation, and if you’re not well, it’s your fault, you are deviant. The book covers five areas relating to the wellness syndrome— ‘The Perfect Human’ where we’re constantly told to seek self-improvement in order to not fall behind in the labor market; ‘The Health Bazaar’ which discusses the increasing demand placed upon us to be seen as desirable to employers; ‘The Happiness Doctrine’ where false promises created by positive psychology, self-help books and the need to be happy are broken down and shown to be flawed; ‘The Chosen Life’ where we see the compulsive need for people to track everything they do in hopes of bettering themselves, and ‘Wellness, farewell’ where being overweight, engaging in risky behaviours and sick days are seen as escapes from the wellness syndrome.The Wellness Syndrome Essay Example

To begin, there were many aspects of this book that I really enjoyed. I think the main reason that I was able to enjoy it, is because this book isn’t just for scholars, it’s accessible to everyone. It allows for the ‘average Joe’ to look at wellness in a societal context from a different perspective, one that’s not often seen. I felt that the arguments presented by Cederström and Spicer really provoked me into thinking critically about the effects that the wellness syndrome has on me. In my personal life I was able to see how my behaviours are molded by the societal ideologies presented in the book. The Wellness Syndrome Essay Example

For example, in the book an app called GymPact is brought up. Essentially this app rewards you for working out and punishes you for not working out (Cederström & Spicer, 2015, p. 112). When I first read it the passage I though that’s insane, however, I shortly realized that using that app would be something I would probably use. Additionally, in chapter four where the idea of meticulously tracking one’s activities is discussed, it made me reflect on why I choose, or rather feel the need to track my steps, heart rate or how much time I spend on my cellphone. Do I track these things because I am choosing to be more aware of my habits? Or because I want to see that I shouldn’t feel guilty for eating out because I reached my step goal today? Similarly, this book made me think critically and, while reading the book, there were parallels between the expansion of the list of parameters that need to be met to be considered well and the medicalization/expansion of the diagnostic criteria for certain conditions such as ADD/ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder etc.The Wellness Syndrome Essay Example

These two themes are parallel, but in an opposite sense because the widening diagnostic criteria just furthers the unattainableness of wellness because we’re expected to be well, yet it’s becoming easier and easier for us to be considered unwell via diagnosis of these conditions. Another strength of the book is that it used relevant and real-life examples to drive home what I feel is one of their main points, which is, in the strive to be well we’re becoming sicker. Today we have access to more diet plans, health services/treatments and exercise programs, and yet, somehow society is more overweight and obese than ever. It’s ironic how these corporations are putting in place wellness programs that, “typically include components such as diet groups, diet counselling, cafeterias with health food, exercise breaks at work, on-site gym facilities and smoking cessation”, but we still haven’t slowed the ever-increasing rates of obesity (Cederström & Spicer, 2015, p. 35). Moreover, in our attempt to be as healthy and productive as possible, the division between work and personal life is gone and our ability to make autonomous decisions regarding ourselves has decreased resulting in “perpetual self-scrutiny, self reproach, self-deprecation, and so also of continuous anxiety. ” (Cederström and Spicer, 2015, p. 39). Finally, I enjoyed the similarity between the themes of the book and the themes presented to me in various classes. The book places emphasis on the fact that blame for sickness, unhappiness, unemployment and any other shortfalls in one’s life has been placed on the individuals with these maladies. If you’re stressed out, be more mindful. Unemployed? You’re not positive enough. You’re poor? You don’t know “The Secret” (Cederström & Spicer, 2015, p. 79). The book points out the fact that we need to look at more than just individual determinants of health, we need to look at the broader ones like socioeconomic status, physical environments and social norms and I appreciated the fact that the authors recognized the fact that an individual isn’t solely responsible for their health.The Wellness Syndrome Essay Example


Like any book, The Wellness Syndrome has its shortcomings. Firstly, I was not a fan of the conclusion. It didn’t really provide any information on how to combat/prevent the wellness syndrome. Throughout the book, all the programs that ‘promoted wellness’ were being bashed, but no realistic alternatives were given. The only examples of ‘anti-wellness syndrome’ given were bug-chasing and fat acceptance, which in some respects still fall victim to aspects of the wellness syndrome (Cederström & Spicer, 2015. P125). It feels like an open-ended conclusion with no real resolve. A more minor criticism is that the cover of the book was slightly misleading. After seeing the pills on the cover, I assumed that the pharmaceutical industry would be discussed in the book. Knowing how large of an effect big pharma has on the economy, politics and how much power it holds in society, and how well the pharmaceutical industry ties into the core concepts of this class. I was a little let down after realizing that pharmaceuticals were not discussed in the book, as it was a topic I was looking forward to learning more about.The Wellness Syndrome Essay Example

The other shortfall I felt this book had is also somewhat of a strength. I felt it was good how Cederström and Spicer backed up all their claims with evidence using a variety of sociological/philosophical theories as well as anecdotes, however, I felt like it was to an excess. So many examples whether agreeing or not with the wellness syndrome were provided, that I felt lost. I didn’t know which argument was supporting which claim and I felt like I lost the position of the authors. I had difficulty figuring out which concepts were key to the creation of their analysis. It was overwhelming to the point where I felt their arguments had lost some validity. The Wellness Syndrome Essay Example

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