Physis: Revista de Saúde Coletiva
Print version ISSN 0103-7331
LEWIS, Aubrey. Health as a social concept. Physis [online]. 1998, vol.8, n.1, pp. 151-174. ISSN 0103-7331. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0103-73311998000100009.
A direct transcript of a conference given by the renowned British psychiatrist, Sir Aubrey Lewis, this article was originally published in a 1953 issue of the British Journal of Sociology. The title may be slightly misleading, since the author is actually criticizing the social definition of health. Though rejecting a social content to the notion of health and disease, Lewis does not deny the importance of a social "context", and advances a definition of health conceming, particularly, the functions of the human mind and body. This is not an epistemological questiono His arguments always derive from methodological issues, challenging the most widely accepted definitions from the medicine and psychiatry of his time. For instance, in dealing with the analyses of performance of psychological and physiological functions he ponders that there is no way we can objectively assess what is "an adequate performance of functions". Hence, we cannot recognize a health or unsound body "in a reliable and valid way". The essay is not as important because of the conclusions the author reaches - tentative and fragmentary - as it because of the questions he raises and the interpretations he challenges.
Keywords : Health [social concept]; ps-ychiatry [mental functions]; physical health [physiological functions]; normal and pathological states.