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"Existential Health: Philosophical and Historical Perspectives"

Journal article
Authors Ola Sigurdson
Published in LIR.journal
Volume 6
Issue 16
Pages 7-23
ISSN 1102-9773
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Pages 7-23
Language en
Keywords existential health, spiritual health, existential vs spiritual health, de nitions of health, medical humanities, health and subjectivity
Subject categories Practical philosophy, Faith and reason, Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


In this article I strive for a conceptual clari cation and con- structive elaboration of the concept of existential health. Taking my cue from the multidimensionality of health – refer- ring to contemporary experience, the WHO de nition of health as well as pre-modern conceptions of health – I compare existential health to other concepts of health – i.e. physical, mental, social and spiritual. I argue that existential health should not be seen as yet another dimension of health – not even spiritual health, the most likely candidate as Valerie DeMarinis and Cecilia Melder, two prominent Swedish psycho- logists of religion, has argued – but rather is a re exive expe- rience of health. By »re exive« I mean an intentional relation to one’s own experience of ailment and health, including a relation to these experiences as one’s own. My conclusion is that existential health as a concept should be reserved for this re exive feature of human subjectivity in relation to health, cutting across all other health dimensions, so as not to confuse the conceptuality in speaking of health.

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