by Dr. Gene Clerkin
Most people probably don’t know this, but there is a difference between illness and having a disease. There are many people that have no presentable disease symptoms yet they are very ill. Some people have a disease and are well at the same time. How can that be? How can someone have a disease and be well all at the same time?
I’ve heard that quite a few people have recently endured the cleansing that may occur in conjunction with some flu or virus. Apparently it can be pretty uncomfortable. The other day one of my clients who survived this bout commented on her experience. Even though she felt physically horrible, she experienced it from a different perspective than in the past. She had trust that her body knew exactly what it was doing to cleanse itself. Instead of having the feeling of being victimized she felt empowered by the process.
That is a perfect example of wellness behavior.
Illness is not about the symptom; rather it is about the state of mind a person has about that symptom, and for that matter, every other aspect of their life. In illness behavior we react to the processes of the body and of life with fear. Wait a second…we were talking about symptoms and sickness and now we’re talking about life?
I also have another client who had recently been confronted with some very major life challenges. A good many people would respond to her situation by shutting down and going into a defensive or protective physiology repeating the cycle of unending anxiety and depression about the present situation. We call that “stage one” in the healing process. So what did she say? Loosely quoted, “I know this will be a challenge but, I’m sure there is a reason for this and that ultimately it creates new opportunities for change and growth.”>
Wow, that is wellness behavior.
Protective or defensive physiology does not allow for that kind of response. When we’re in stress physiology the part of the brain that allows for a conscious observation and healthy response is unavailable. Since we’re only accessing the lower or reactive part of our brain, our responses are skewed by the filter of our past wounds.
When we experience a situation that is deemed unsafe, uncomfortable or damaging to our sense of self, our brain goes into defensive physiology to protect itself from that information. We release chemicals that effect heart rate, blood pressure, and cause us to tighten down and become inflexible. If we continue in that state, which most people do, our system is not flexible enough to adapt to new and potentially stressful information.
Wellness and illness are about how we respond and adapt to our symptoms and to our life. How would you respond to a symptom, a disease or a life crisis? How have you responded in the past? The answer to those questions will help you get an idea of your own level of wellness.
It might also be noted that wellness is open ended, which means that you can always achieve a greater level of it. In fact, in a research study conducted at the University of California, it was found that people in Network Care, tracked over a period of nine years, appeared to have no ceiling to the level of wellness they experienced. Network Care operates in the wellness model helping people develop strategies to recover from stress physiology, adapt to future stresses and access the part of the brain which enables healthier choices and responses….regardless of symptoms.
For more information about Dr. Gene please visit