Mental, Social, and Physical Well-being

The human being is said by some to be simply a biological organism. This would suggest a restrictive parallel limitation with multi-celled organisms. What distinguishes man from beast? Further yet, what articulates beast from vegetation? “The human is called extraordinary, upon observation of it’s theoretical abilities, on a number of fronts. The “well-being” of a person is in fact the subject of major cutting-edge study in the medical field. What are the origins of this concept of a unified health?

Zach Baldwin

Kingdom Society Research

January 2014

Mental, Social, and Physical Well-being

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Deuteronomy 6:5 (ESV)

WELL-BEING

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12(ESV)

Three elements are proposed here that classify the distinctive “wholeness” of a person – with a fourth element (adding a powerful new dimension to all the others). The three Elements proposed are: “Mind”; “Soul”; and “Body. These three elements correlate to three functions of a person in society: “Intellectual”; “Social”; “Physical”. These three can be mutually-reinforcing towards a state of “over-all health” in a person. Imagine a person who is intellectually stimulated, and socially active, yet lacks quality physical or nutritional input into his body – he is considered “not healthy”. Yet consider another scenario: A person is getting intellectual stimulation, and physical/nutritional sustenance, yet lacks social interaction – a “state of depression” is likely on ‘the horizon’ for him. A third scenario: Say the person is socially active, and is getting social interaction with people, yet lacks Intellectual stimulation – his ability to confident even on a physical level can be disrupted, his ability to interaction in social environments with others is perhaps embarrassing (especially if his lack of intellectual stimulation is a result of laziness. They are all crucial elements of life. Society is built around these three different elements of personhood.

THE MIND

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)

The great potential of the mind is perhaps enormous a the surface because it is “unseen”. There has been a distinction made between “the brain”, and “the mind”. At some point, we understand the brain can only do so much, yet the mind works mysteriously in harmony with other elements in us. Charles Finney, in the preface to his literary work “Finney’s Systematic Theology”, he wrote this:

“Finite minds, unless they are asleep or stultified by prejudice, must advance in knowledge. The discovery of new truth will modify old views and opinions, and there is perhaps no end to this process with finite minds in any world. True Christian consistency does not consist in stereotyping our opinions and views, and in refusing to make any improvement lest we should be guilty of change, but it consists in holding our minds open to receive the rays of truth from every quarter, and in changing our views and language and in practice as often and as fast as we can obtain further information…. I hold myself sacredly bound, not to defend these positions at all events, but on the contrary, to subject every one of them to the most thorough discussion, and to hold and treat them as I would the opinions of anyone else; that is, if upon further discussion and investigation I see no cause to change, I hold them fast; but if I can see a flaw in any one of them, I shall amend or wholly reject it, as further light shall demand.”i

Webster defines the mind this way: “1) Intention; purpose; design. 2) Inclination; will; desire; a sense much used. 3) Opinion. 4) Memory; remembrance. 5) The intellectual or intelligent power in man; the understanding. 6) The heart or seat of affection.”ii Within this mysterious construct we simplistically label “the mind”, we find the also categorized constructs we know as “Memory”, “Reason”, “Logic”, and “Conscience”. This is certainly *not* an exhaustive listing, but rather a gauge to begin the framing of a “silhouette” of a basic structure of the mind. Reason is probably one of the top abilities of the mind. It holds exclusively the capacity we have to “think”. The Hebrew Strong’s # (H3820 – “Leb”) is translated as such: “inner man”; “mind”; “will”; “heart”; for the center of anything; “understanding”… There are two Greek words of interest: (G1271 – “dianoia”) 1) the mind as a faculty of understanding, “feeling”; “desiring” 2) understanding; 3) mind; 4)thoughts, (either good or bad)… “deep thought…” The other Greek word: (G2588 – “Kardia” – 1) “the heart”; “the center of the circulation of the blood…”; “of the understanding the faculty and seat of the intelligence…”; “…of the will”; “thoughts or feelings”; “the middle”iii.

INTELLECTUAL ELEMENT

Knowledge can be considered neutral. It has been called “power”. Yet, it can be used for good or bad purposes. Wisdom then, would rightly be displayed as “the correct use of knowledge.” What then, is “reason”? Larry Allen, in his book A Time to Understand, defines reason: “To reason is to draw conclusions back to presuppositions.” Presupposition must also then be defined: “…the name for an idea a person reason from as he forms his beliefs.iv At some point then, the concept of “character comes into play in the person. It is perhaps not so easily categorized into one of the three elements of the person’s “well-being elements” – but it may be the state of one’s developed habits, (generally “moral” ones), and virtues. Virtues may be viewed as being kept in the construct known as the “conscience”. This, Gary Ezzo alternately refers to in “Growing Kid’s God’s Way” as the “Moral Warehouse”. Morality seems to have a deep place in humans. It is formed early on, and develops the larger construct of the person’s character, which includes external habits. But beliefs developed at the inner lever are more catastrophic, as they can lead to actions much more intentional, and elaborate. Finally, the combination of Reason, logic, and bodily, external observation permits what is called “prediction”. Using this ability, men can theorize yet-occurred events on a number of levels. This can be connected to the method we refer to as “The Scientific Method”.

THE SECRET INGREDIENTS

LaRae Quy, in her article “5 Characteristics of a Strong Mind”, gives definition to what a “strong mind” looks like: “I define a strong mind as having a great capacity to face challenges.” She considers five elements she calls: “The secret Ingredients” – they are: “1. Confidence, 2. Courage, 3. Commitment, 4. Control, 5. Purpose.”v The brain is thought to control the functions of the body. In the same way, principles, or virtues can be said to govern that function of our mind as a whole.

SOUL

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”

Deuteronomy 11:18 (ESV)

One of the first things that comes to mind immediately is the concept of “eternality”. Souls are thought to be immortal. The soul can be thought to house the decision-making function of the person: “the will”. On a more practical level however, there is evidence to make a case that this segment of the person is better referred to in our modern culture as the “social/relation ability”. Something in people need to relate and interaction with one another. It’s in our nature. Webster defines soul this way: “1) The spiritual, rational and immortal substance in man, which distinguishes him from brutes. 2) The understanding; the intellectual principle. 3) Vital principle. 4) Spirit; essence; chief part. 5) Life; animation principle or part. 6) Internal power. 7) A human being. 8) Animal life. 9) Active power. 10) Spirit; courage; fire. 11) Generosity; nobleness of mind. 12) An intelligent being. 13) Heart; affection”. Genesis 1:30, 2:7, 6:17, 7:15, 7:22, Isaiah 57:16, and Revelation 11:11 make reference to an interesting concept: that of a “breath of life”.

then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

Genesis 2:7

According to this passage, this “breath of life” was the catalyst that transformed a formed (yet lifeless) corpse into a living creature. The implications here are grand. What is this “breath of life”? It’s safe to make the connection to our life, based on the evidence from the original langauge it was written in: (Breath) – H5397 נשׁמה

neshâmâh” From H5395; a puff, that is, wind, angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect or (concretely) an animal: – blast, (that) breath (-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit.vi

  • (Life) – (H2416 חי chay khah’ee) From H2421; alive; hence raw (flesh); fresh (plant, water, year), strong; also (as noun, especially in the feminine singular and masculine plural) life (or living thing), whether literally or figuratively: – + age, alive, appetite, (wild) beast, company, congregation, life (-time), live (-ly), living (creature, thing), maintenance, + merry, multitude, + (be) old, quick, raw, running, springing, troop.

  • (Soul) – (Hebrew H5315 – “Nephesh”) – soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite;A breathing creature; vitality; living being; “…(with life in the blood)…”; breath; ghost; passion; person; life; soul; mind; heart; creature; lives

  • (Soul) – (Greek G5590 – “psuche”)

Word study gatherings: – 1) “breath” 2) “the soul”

breath”; “spirit”; immortal soul”; “vitality; “life”; “souls”; The implication is that this “breath of life” can refer to soul. Sheldon Cohen, in his study entitled: “Social Relationships and Health”, makes the connection that social interaction brings awareness of deeper values or virtues present in us: Social integration is also thought to influence one’s sense of self and one’s emotional tone. Role concepts that are shared among a group of people help to guide social interaction by providing a common set of expectations about how people should act in different roles. In meeting normative role expectations, individuals gain a sense of identity, predictability and stability; of purpose; and of meaning, belonging, security, and self-worth (Cassel, 1976; Cohen, 1988; Thoits, 1983; Wills, 1985).”” Cohen also interestingly connects social factors to a larger state of over all health:

Social factors can promote health through two generic mechanisms: stress-buffering and main effects…” He demonstrates two different levels that social interaction influences health, one for reducing negitive effects, and one for reinforcing and emboldening positive ones. He promotes the “main-effect model” as more powerful of the two, The main-effect model argues that social connectedness is beneficial irrespective of whether one is under stress.”vii

Morality shows up somewhere between, or combined in the Mind and soul elements of personhood. Joshua Knobe, in his article “The Side Effect: Test How Morality Effects Your Worldview”, makes an interesting illustration:

Imagine a scene in a corporate boardroom. The chairman is considering a new policy. He says: “I know that this policy will harm the environment, but I don’t care at all about that. All I care about is making as much money as possible. So let’s go ahead and do it.” The company adopts the policy, and sure enough, the environment is harmed.

…Now consider a seemingly straightforward question: Did the chairman of the board harm the environment intentionally? Versions of this question have been given to participants in literally hundreds of experiments, and in each case, the result has been the same. People tend to say that the answer is obviously yes. The chairman knew perfectly well that he was going to be harming the environment and decided to go ahead anyway. So clearly he did it intentionally. But now suppose that we make just one minor change in our story.

We will leave almost everything the same, but we will switch around the nature of the outcome. This time, instead of saying that the policy “harms” the environment, we will say that the policy “helps”the environment. Let’s go through the story again in this new version. We are back to the corporate boardroom, but this time, the chairman’s speech is just a little bit different: “I know that this policy will help the environment, but I don’t care at all about that. All I care about is making as much money as possible. So let’s go ahead and do it.” The company adopts the policy, and sure enough, the environment is helped. Now consider the corresponding question: Did the chairman of the board help the environment intentionally? If you are like most participants in the experiments, your reaction to this second version is very different from your reaction to the first.viii

BODY

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:14

The one element that is observable to us, it is also that element that ironically makes observation possible in the first place. It is somewhat difficult to distinguish where the line of body (brain) ends, and mind begins, but at a more surface level, the physical body has many distinct features from the mind. The Body includes all of the biological anatomy of the human body, the functions, chemicals, endorphin’s etc. Some have called it all that exists in an exclusively physics-defined universe. Webster defines it this way: “1) The frame of an animal. 2) Matter, as opposed to spirit. 3) A person; a human being. 4) Reality, as opposed to representation. 5) A collective mass…”

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen 1:26-28

The bold command is given to man here to dominate. In fact, this is the first command given to man. Empirical (external) perception finds it’s place here – this includes the abilities of: Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, Sound. As man began to combine his capacity to reason with his abilities of external perception (physical perception) – he could make inferences about the physical world around him. Yet mankind has today gone to far with this ability of external perception to the point that “all things” can be observed on a physical plane. It is simply a misconception. We cannot see the ability of our reason to know it is there in the first place – yet we trust it is. The abilities are powerful, but in addition to finite minds, we also have finite abilities of physical perception… One of (if not THE) categories exemplifying this element of well-being is the incarnation of God. Jesus said this of Himself:

I and the Father are one.”

John 10:30

The brain component of the body can be perceived as the central sensory computer of the body. Controlling the nervous system, which allows the organs of the body to function as we ask it to. It also is the central “deciphering” faculty to determine what a source is. At some level, the brain controls the heart, which is the source of blood (life to the physical body), yet the heart gives the blood to the brain to function, so both are mutually essential to the biological function of the body.

The Heart (organ) can be considered the power source of the body. Oxygenating the blood for circulation throughout the body, it heads up the biological department called: “the circulatory system”. This system is constantly working in partnership with the brain to determine the organs of the body that need fresh blood to be delivered to. And as old blood is returned to the heart, it is “recycled” with oxygen, to be delivered fresh to organs. This all happening without the conscious awareness of the person – but reprogrammed into the body’s self-sustaining behaviors. There is another factor interesting in the body – it is called “muscle memory”. It is the body’s ability to act efficiently based with commonly-used muscle actions. This concept enables the “Muscular-Skeletal system” to develop additional muscle mass, as it adapts to new stimuli, so the body will perform with less resistance to potential dangers to situations in the future. Muscle mass is developed as a result of the body encountering resistance leading to the breakdown of muscle, and thus rebuilds it to better perform in the same kind of situation in the future.

INTER-LINKED FUNCTIONALITY

Not only does the organs of the body work together, but the different elements of the person are interwoven into life. This interactivity happens subtly and smoothly – with little, or no notice ou our part on a simple level. But combining the elements on a practicable level for activities in life, say for instance, Marketing. An entrepreneur starts out with a product from a company. He must learn it’s purpose, it’s benefits, and the methods used to interact with the customer to desire to purchase to product. This case is mostly the combination of intellectual and social elements working together, yet the whole time, his muscles are working: picking up papers, exciting his vocal cords as he communicates, walking. Major medical broad speculation and foresight has has slated this concept of “well-being” as the future of Medicine, one research study states:

Well-being has been defined as evaluating life as satisfying and generally experiencing more positive states and emotions than negative ones [16,17]. Such evaluations may include meaning and purpose, affective reactions such as joy and sadness, and satisfaction with life as a whole as well as in domains such as work, family life, and housing [3]. These subjective evaluations and positive life orientations and experiences are related to a wide range of health outcomes including cardiovascular disease [18,19], immune functioning [20], and mortality [17,21].”

The medical field is noticing that real health has it’s depths a lot deeper then previously thought. Whereas before it was how explicitly the physical body’s condition was, and then later, how the psychological state (out-sourced?) of the person was in addition to his physical state – now researchers are making the connection to health at three levels. Domain-specific life satisfaction items were developed for cross-cultural use, and have been shown to be robust measures [40]. Including multiple questions that tap into different well-being domains is useful for cross-cultural research [35]. Similarly, for US states, knowing whether certain demographic factors, health behaviors, or societal conditions are linked with well being domains would provide a more detailed understanding of the experience of population well-being and could identify disparities in well-being among states, communities, and groups to guide local action [41]. This understanding could support future public health research and focus interventions and evaluations on enhancing population health.”ix Medical practitioners are looking at the local geography of an area as it relates to the health in each element.

Conclusion

As all of these factors interact, when governs their subconscious operation and offers smooth precision as we weave them together in life? Is there a Governing factor above them all? Is there a premise to which they all submit? Is there a moral foundation unseen? What does becoming a Christian do in the person? How does the Holy Spirit contribute to the person? How does having another whole “person” inside alter a lifestyle?

iFinney, Charles G. Finney’s Systematic Theology. Ed. J. H. Fairchild. N.p.: Oberlin College, 1878. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Web. 23 Dec. 2013.

ii Webster, Noah. An American Dictionary of the English Language. 1828 ed. New York: S. Converse, 1828. E-sword.

iii  Lexicon Concordance Online Bible. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Dec. 2013.

ivAllen, Larry. A Time to Understand. Tyler, TX 75709: Larry Allen, 2010. Print.

vQuy, LaRae. “5 Characteristics of a Strong Mind.” Michael Hyatt: Helping Leaders Leverage Influence. Michael Hyatt, n.d. Web. 23 Dec. 2013.

viStrong, James. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. 1890 ed. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

viiCohen, Sheldon. “Social Relationships and Health.” American Psychologist 59.8 (2004): 676-84. Print.

viiiKnobe, Joshua. “The Side Effect : Test How Morality Affects Your World View.”Scientific American. Scientific American, Inc., 8 Nov. 2011. Web. 23 Dec. 2013.

ixKobau et al. Population Health Metrics 2013, 11:19

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