The Impact of My Family and Culture on My Philosophy of Health and Illness

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977 words

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Coming from CHIJ Secondary School, our motto was to promote love and this influenced me to spread joy and positivity. Typically, being in an all girls’ school translates to open expressions of appreciation and love to friends where we give little notes and gifts to each other on a regular basis. In addition, we would prepare encouraging notes and welfare packs for friends and other school mates during exam period to spur everyone on. These small acts of love have definitely impacted students who in turn carry on this culture even after leaving school. Being in an environment where everyone was so giving influenced me and it became almost instinctive and natural to spread happiness and give as well.

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Being non-religious, I am not exactly bounded by rules or restrained because of faith. This made me wonder what is holding me back in life and realised it was me. I was restraining myself because of my fear of being ostracised and unpopular opinion. This links to my philosophy of life, happiness. Doing things that will cause me unhappiness because of possible exclusion might be my worst nightmare as I am a people-oriented person. Dreading isolation, I live by doing things which are usually determined by morals and social norms which are socially acceptable.

To me, the physical effect of illness and poor health is not the most daunting. The most frightening are thoughts of loved ones grieving and having to leave them if I were to have an illness. When I was 8 years old, my 5-month-old sister had to undergo a heart surgery due to a congenital abnormality. My family, especially my mother, was at a loss and distraught over the situation. My mother’s life was turned upside down. I remembered her looking haggard and very forgetful during that period. She wondered if her age played a role in my sister’s heart defect as she was 40 years old when my sister was conceived. Till this day, my sister’s surgery is a sensitive topic to bring up. My mother’s voice would start quivering while she pats her chest whenever it is brought up. Illness and poor health disturb all aspects of relationship that contributes to a patient being a person, affect families and destroys families’ previous coping mechanisms. Using the BPSS Model, in terms of the Spiritual Aspect, illness disrupts more than relationships within the person, both patient and loved ones suffer with the onset of an illness. Loved ones are not necessarily having a better time than the patient as feelings of emotional pain and blaming may come in. Having gone through the experience of a loved one with an illness, it has affected my outlook of illness and health. According to the BPSS Model, my spiritual aspect of life has been influenced by my experiences and my attitude is affected by my interpersonal environment.

I strongly believe that patients should not give up and try their best to live for the sake of themselves and if not, their loved ones. Given patients have loved ones who are trying their best to keep patients alive, I consider patients giving up on treatment as selfish and unfair to loved ones. Patients should not give up if people around them have not. Their loved ones would be the ones suffering if patients were to succumb to the illness. Furthermore, time does not necessarily heal. Loved ones will be mourning and carrying feelings of loss and grief for the rest of their lives. I have such an attitude towards illness as I believe that patients are able to recover as long as they have the willpower and not give up. To me, people have an internal locus over their health condition.

Using the Ecological Perspective, the interactions within my family (microsystem) have influenced my value towards health and illness. Not being to spend time and build memories with my sister when she was 5 months old was one of the fears. Being able to live is blessing and the most important as I can spend time and build memories with loved ones which is the essence of living. Furthermore, family is the most important aspect of my life and quality time with them is very much treasured.

The Dilemma

I do not have prior experience in helping others in health-related issues, however, as a prospective helper, I might experience differing views about life from clients. For example, in Tutorial 2 case-study, Mr Ho wants palliative care rather than seeking treatment while Mrs Ho wants Mr Ho to continue receiving treatment. There will be a dilemma of following the wishes of Mr Ho which is going against my attitude and values or siding Mrs Ho because her views are aligned to mine. However, according to SASW Code of Ethics, it is important to respect clients’ self-determination, thereby respecting that Mr Ho wants palliative care after battling cancer for 8 years. To protect my values and attitude, it is important to keep the person-in-environment (PIE) perspective in mind and assess clients based on their environments and life experiences which influences everyone’s view of towards illness. It is critical that clients and their environments are considered as interrelated and should be understood together. For example, understanding Mr Ho’s viewpoint and how his experience and progression with cancer affected his choice. Just because my values differ from clients, it does not mean that either of us are right or wrong as our family, social and cultural factors shape us.

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In summary, my family, culture and non-religion has influenced my philosophy of life and shaped me. My personal experience has deeply impacted my priorities and outlook towards health and illness. Having different views from clients may cause ethical dilemmas so it is crucial to operate from the client’s viewpoint and try to understand so as to protect both the client and me.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Impact Of My Family And Culture On My Philosophy Of Health And Illness. (2020, March 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from
“The Impact Of My Family And Culture On My Philosophy Of Health And Illness.” GradesFixer, 16 Mar. 2020,
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