Health is not merely the absence of disease or physical injury. A person’s state of health was defined in the preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization in 1948 as ‘a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity’. Clearly, no person is completely healthy in these terms, but this concept of health focuses health on the positives in a person’s life, rather than on the deficits. Thus, according to this holistic view, good health is the extent to which a person is able to make the most of their physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social potential, satisfy their basic needs and achieve their aspirations. The best-known statement of the complexity and range of people’s needs is by the psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908–70). His work is significant because it draws not only on psychological but also social and anthropological perspectives on people’s needs and how to meet or fulfil them. The most widely known form of Maslow’s five-level ‘hierarchy of needs’ originates in his early publication (Maslow, 1943), but he added to this over the following 20 years and this results in an eight-level pyramid of needs (Adams, 2008b), as shown in Figure 20.1.
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