A fellow blogger, Dr. Grumpy, is on a crusade to ban the use of the word artisanal and all of its derivatives. He believes that it has become a buzzword and has lost all original meaning. As I read his posts I tried to come up with a like word in the medical field that fits these same two criteria. So I took a stroll through my mind (a scary prospect, to be sure) and came up with a word that indeed has been so overused that I’m not sure what it means anymore. And the word is…
What’s wrong with wellness? Who doesn’t want to be well? The term began to be used in this present, new-age sense in the 1950’s, by a certain Halbert Dunn, MD, who began using the phrase “high level wellness”. He defined wellness as "an integrated method of functioning which is oriented toward maximizing the potential of which the individual is capable. It requires that the individual maintain a continuum of balance and purposeful direction within the environment where he is functioning."
Huh? As one might expect, with a litany of really cool words like that, wellness began to take on a new aura and over the years has become one of the standard catchphrases for many alternative medicine purveyors, including Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil, and Mehmet Oz.
The word has crept into our vernacular as well. Health became…wellness. You no longer went to the gym; you went to the…wellness center. Women no longer go to see their gynecologist; they visit the…women’s wellness center. You didn’t go to rehab; you now went to the…Wellness Resource Center. Even dogs and cats can get in on the Wellness bandwagon.
Pardon me for being a wee bit cynical, but might all this wellness be a ruse to line everyone’s pockets with money earned from associating themselves with this term, one that carries with it a hip, alternative, integrative (now there’s another one) and holistic (yet another one!) sensibility.
Personally, I think we should just leave well enough alone…