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Defining whole person health as foundational theory for health promotion

Janet M. Kanter, PhD, MPH, Humanistic Center for Health Promotion and Positive Psychology, 1801 Churchside Lane, Virginia Beach, VA 23454, 757-496-2055, ljkanter@worldnet.att.net

Much of the force driving alternative medicine is individuals' desire to be treated as a whole person. The differentiation of knowledge for the purpose of scientific progress and validation has resulted in a fragmentation of approaches to promoting health: i.e. psychology and psychiatry as authoritative sources for the mind, medicine and physiology for the body, and various religions describing human spirituality. The holistic health movement communicates the concept of whole person health as the interconnectedness of the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the human being. To date, a theoretical framework that demonstrates and elucidates the interconnectedness of physical, mental and spiritual health does not exist. I have prepared a theory for presentation which can describe the interconnectedness of whole person health. I have previously presented at the 2003 APHA conference a definition of spiritual health as part of the Spiritual Needs Theory informed by Abraham Maslow's needs theories and critical analysis of common teachings among world religions. The model I will be presenting is a diagram representing how we promote and achieve health in the areas of mind, body, and (newly defined) spirit. Building on Herbert Benson's theory of the relaxation response, I am suggesting that through balancing the human stress response and relaxation response whole person health can be achieved in mind, body, and spirit.

Learning Objectives: Learning objectives

Keywords: Wellness, Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Alternative and Complementary Health Practices and Public Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA