Holistic (or Wholistic) Health.

Holistic means seeing what you are studying (people and their health) as a whole (so it is sometimes spelt “wholistic”). In health this means we see people as whole individuals, not as collections of body parts – heart, lungs, kidneys and so on – all as different systems and all with different requirements for health.

To see the bits of people is important and helpful. But it misses out stuff as well – that all the bits affect each other and that the whole controls the parts.

It is me who wants to go for a walk and my feet come along for the ride, so to speak.

This leads to one of the great slogans of wholism – ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”. To put this another way, however much you analyze our separate organs, even our brains, you won’t end up with what people have sacrificed themselves for, whether their children or their nation or their religion. In these cases it is the whole person who makes this commitment. In health it means that you can do things to make all of you feel good. After laughing all parts of us feel better and function differently: not because our lungs worked (though this is true too) but because all of who we are saw the joke and enjoyed the experience.

What wholism doesn’t mean is that everything is connected to everything. In some ways this is true: follow a water molecule and you will end up going from land to water to sky and perhaps following it around the world as it is blown by the wind. But this also untrue, me typing this has no effect on school children in Venezuela, or even in the primary school less than a kilometre away. Everything does not affect everything else.

For our health, being wholistic means seeing that what we do as people:

  • maintaining relationships,
  • laughing and
  • giving of ourselves

is good for every part of us.

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