Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Disease, illness, sickness, health, healing and wholeness: exploring some elusive concepts
  1. Kenneth M Boyd
  1. Edinburgh University Medical School and The Institute of Medical Ethics


    Concepts such as disease and health can be difficult to define precisely. Part of the reason for this is that they embody value judgments and are rooted in metaphor. The precise meaning of terms like health, healing and wholeness is likely to remain elusive, because the disconcerting openness of the outlook gained from experience alone resists the reduction of first-person judgments (including those of religion) to third-person explanations (including those of science).

    • Health
    • disease
    • healing
    • wholeness
    • illness
    • sickness

    Statistics from

    Request Permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


    • Kenneth M Boyd is Senior Lecturer in Medical Ethics, Edinburgh University Medical School and Research Director, Institute of Medical Ethics.