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  1. 1

    Doctor Whom

    May I add the most important?

    No 1 – Make sure you are born into a family with money and education.

  2. 2

    Ben Harris-Roxas

    @ Dr Whom: You’re spot on. Re-reading the piece I realise I haven’t emphasised the importance of social and structural factors enough – the social determinants, in other words. I think it’s still interesting to note that even if we restrict ourselves to promoting actions that individuals can take, we could do things differently.

  3. 3

    Doctor Whom

    Ben – I just finished Barbara Ehrenreich’s Smile or Die, [sometimes titled – Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America] and I’m a bit more oversensitive than usual to positivity.

    I suppose we should add that your family should also have a gene pool that isn’t too prone to a few illnesses. But even then money and education will help.

    Too some extent this list works as a subset of the Social Inclusion model. I was thinking the other day that these days – it may have been different a while back – smoking is a loner’s habit. The more socially included one is the less chances there are to smoke.

    I was struck when in IRE, UK and EU lat last year how much people still smoke inside compared to here in Oz. I can’t think of any smoker I know here who smokes even in
    their own house. I know even those who live alone smoke outside even at night.

    It might be that social inclusion works against continuing smoking these days in some practical ways.

  4. 4

    Jenny Haines

    It reads a bit like a Sunday newspaper Mind Body Spirit lift out. I agree that these things contribute to good health and well being and they are all good suggestions but to someone suffering chronic stress, pain, mental illness or restricted by a disability they may seem somewhat simplistic. But there seems to be a lot of that around now, simplistic solutions to complex problems – take a look at the Biggest Loser on television. In our rushed society no-one seems to have the time or inclination to sit and listen or analyse, and then help. That takes time and we must rush on to the next thing, or the next person, or the next dollar.

  5. 5

    Ben Harris-Roxas

    @Doctor Whom I haven’t read that one of Ehrenreich’s, though I thought her earlier one “Nickel and Dimed” was a devastating indictment on American working conditions. I’ll take a look.

    This discussion reminds me a little of David Gordon’s alternate health tips from Dennis Raphael’s paper on “Health Inequities in the USA”:

    1. Don’t be poor. If you can, stop. If you can’t, try not to be poor for long.
    2. Don’t have poor parents.
    3. Own a car.
    4. Don’t work in a stressful, low paid manual job.
    5. Don’t live in damp, low quality housing.
    6. Be able to afford to go on a foreign holiday and sunbathe.
    7. Practice not losing your job and don’t become unemployed.
    8. Take up all benefits you are entitled to, if you become unemployed, retired or sick and disabled.
    9. Don;t live next to a busy road or near a polluting factory.
    10. Learn how to fill in the complex housing benefit/asylum application forms before you become homeless and destitute.

  6. 6
  7. 7

    Doctor Whom

    Jenny and Ben – I highly recommend Barbara Ehrenreich’s Smile or Die. I got mine from Book Depository – doesn’t everyone – landed on my doorstep for about 50% of what it would cost here.

    She talks about how when she got breast cancer she was overwhelmed with positive thinking advice from all directions. And that when she went seeking support etc she was again bumping into the oppressive cult of positivity. She then goes on to look at the cult of positive thinking in USA and then the evidence for positive thinking in illness in particular (no evidence – or weak correlation at best) – with side tracks into religion, sales, spruikers and corporate culture.

    She spends a fair bit of time on Martin Seligman and the Positive Psychology movement. She writes well and its a good read.

  8. 8

    Tim Woodruff

    The work of Wilkinson and Pickett appear to indicate that income inequality across a first world society is pivotal and correlates very strongly with most indicators of health and well being. (google Spirit Level for impressive slide data). This can be demonstrated eg in the USA and in individual states of the USA. Thus, although individual factors as suggested can clearly help individuals, and may perhaps explain some of the variation in the data from Wilkinson et al, the main factors contributing to the overall health and well being of a particular society through all socio-economic classes are not in the control of the individual.
    tim woodruff
    doctors reform society


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