The Wellness Syndrome – Nothing More Than a Head cold

The Wellness Syndrome – Nothing More Than a Head cold

There’s an interesting book that’s just been published – The Wellness Syndrome. Interesting, but not really compelling.

It’s a catchy title. The oxymoron of being ‘sick with wellness’ seemed to promise a thought-provoking read. With a Professor and an Associate Professor as co-authors, I expected some good, solid academic proof to support the theories. Lots of studies, tables of data, maybe even the odd graph or two showing the exponential increase in this or the inverse relationship of that.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of this – or that. Instead, what I got was some interesting anecdotes and fun facts– but nothing that I could really sink my teeth into.

The main premise of the book is that people have become so obsessed with trying to achieve wellness that any benefits of actually being well are offset by the stress and anguish of trying to achieve it.

Rather than offering up scientific research studies to support their theory, the authors instead give us the example of a character portrayed in an autobiographical novel.

Interesting Anecdote – Karl gets great pleasure from being bedridden due to a football injury all because he doesn’t have to deal with his usual day to day responsibilities. When he was healthy, Karl had the stresses of the world upon him. Now he’s stuck in bed, he’s stress free.

The inference seems to be that if only we could spend more time being sick, we’d be a lot happier. Really?

Though the authors do not attempt to discredit the scientific evidence that tells us smoking is bad, they do point out that it was in Nazi Germany where the anti-smoking movement first took hold.

Fun Fact – “…Nazi Germany was the first nation to impose smoking bans in public places.”

It sounds like the punchline from a Seinfeld standup routine – ‘Now I’m not saying the anti-smoking lobby are a bunch of facisist, but…’

The pursuit of mindfulness and positive thinking, the book tells us, only serves to put more pressure on the individual to achieve their own state of wellness and happiness.

The authors go on to say that our society has been built on prohibition and suppression, so we’re programmed to only cope with a limited amount of happiness. To be happy all the time is “repetitive, monotonous, exhausting.” That may be true (though again we’re not offered any data to support the notion) but surely it’s better than being miserable and unhealthy all the time.

I guess my biggest issue with the book is the contention that wellness has become a “moral obligation,” demanding society to conform. That wellness is an idealogy that stigmatizes non-conformists? I think that’s a stretch.

At best, wellness is a lifestyle choice and an aspiration. If some may embrace it with such zeal that it puts off others, oh well.