Health Care Analysis 24 (2):148-160 (2016)

In this paper I will briefly discuss flourishing and freedom, relating them to health and disease; discuss the tensions between flourishing and freedom; and exemplify how those discussions are relevant to chronic disease suffering. The concept of freedom has significant connections with the concepts of health, disability and disease. Understanding disease and disability in terms of the loss of aspects of freedom may help our understanding of the suffering that arises from chronic disease. On the other hand, flourishing may require a degree of adversity. Therefore disability and disease may be conducive to flourishing. Flourishing may be understood as subordinated to freedom, as a path to freedom, or as transcending freedom. It is suggested that freedom and flourishing are expressed as mutually enhancing cycles, actualized according to the personal circumstances that will ground their expression. In a distant horizon of innocent spontaneous self-expression, flourishing and freedom may become coincident. Regarding chronic disease as a constraint on ‘species-typical’ abilities to fulfill one’s significant life interests, as well as an unwanted intrusion into the patient’s life, presents chronic disease suffering as a loss of both positive and negative freedom. The conceptual relation between flourishing and freedom will thus organise the possibilities the sufferer sees as open to their self.
Keywords Flourishing  Freedom  Identity  Disease  Disability  Chronic disease
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DOI 10.1007/s10728-016-0314-6
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