This is an updated cersion of an earlier paper, The Social Construction of Health. This version is more detailed and extensive in its range of cirical analysis. It was presented at the Massey University 2013 Sustainability Conference in Auckland on the 13-15th November 2013, the theme of which was "The Sustainable Rhetoric: Facts and Fictions".
This paper compares the health systems of our present Westrn system which relies heavily on a biomedical model of the universe and of the human organism with the health systems of pre-colonial communities:
It shows the way in which aspects of these systems have already been appropriated by western culture - using as examples the works of Carl Jung, Wilhelm Reich, Ronald Laing and others, and points also to the adoption of Eastern systems of acupuncture, and holistic medicines. It notes that these are invariably marginalised as "fringe" or "New Age" by Western medical practitioners, but that nevertheless, these systems are prevailing and increasing in their practice.
It finds that our Western model of health is dramatically failing - heavily influenced as it is by the capitalist ethic of commodification and profiteering. The paper analyses the etiology of our present system as well as the epistemologies of both the pre-colonial and the capitalist systems. It suggests that the latter is ultimately unsustainable - economically, socially, culturally and medically. It recommends an acceptance of traditional rationalities and the abandonment of our own technical/positivist rationality if we are to survive as a species.
Using this critical analysis of the health system, and borrowing from indigenous models, the paper conclused with an architectural design for a communiuty health facility in the small New Zealand town of Whakatane. It showa by example how and what we can learn from pre-capitalist rationalities to ceate a sustainable world that is not dependant on capitalist exploitation and appropriation.
To download the PDF of the full paper click here
The paper is accompanied by another PDF of the Powerpoint presentation given at the conference. To download that, click here
It is a large file, so please be patient.