The moral tread­mill Is an in­di­vid­ual solely re­spon­si­ble for his/her wellness?

Down to Earth - - BOOK - PRIYA TAL­WAR

IT MAY be com­mon to pro­hibit peo­ple from smok­ing in pub­lic places, but how bizarre would it be to ban smok­ers from ap­ply­ing for jobs? That was the news some years ago when sev­eral health­care in­sti­tu­tions in the US dis­qual­i­fied smok­ers who ap­plied for jobs. The logic: your mind and body are eco­nomic re­sources, and if you take care of them, you are a good worker. And if you fail to con­form to this idea, then you are sim­ply weak-willed.

In a cap­i­tal­ist econ­omy, there is more to this bizarre moral com­mand. Em­ploy­ees who are smok­ers po­ten­tially cost more to the em­ployer—not be­cause they would suf­fer from dis­eases, but be­cause it would be cheaper not to hire them and pro­vide health in­sur­ance. This in­va­sive com­mand to be al­ways healthy, happy and suc­cess­ful is called the wellness com­mand, some­thing you should be wary of, say aca­demi­cians and au­thors, Carl Ced­er­ström and An­dré Spicer in The Wellness Syn­drome.

Ide­ol­ogy sans logic

They say there is noth­ing wrong in be­ing healthy, but when wellness be­comes an ide­ol­ogy, the fail­ure to con­form be­comes a stigma. Not just health, but hap­pi­ness, suc­cess, mind­ful­ness are all cap­i­tal­ist ide­olo­gies to which we may be suc­cumb­ing to at the cost of edg­ing out the world. With an idea as de­fin­i­tive as that, the au­thors show how ev­ery­day life could throw up pe­cu­liar sit­u­a­tions.

Take, for ex­am­ple, the mind-body ap­proach to health. The idea that phys­i­cal ill­nesses are caused by what’s trou­bling your mind

THE WELLNESS SYN­DROME Carl Ced­er­str m and Andr Spicer Polity Press | 200 pages | IS­TOCK PHOTO 1,360

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