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Why Wellness Sells

Natural Health in a Pharmaceutical Culture

Colleen Derkatch

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How and why the idea of wellness holds such rhetorical—and harmful—power.

In Why Wellness Sells, Colleen Derkatch examines why the concept of wellness holds such rhetorical power in contemporary culture. Public interest in wellness is driven by two opposing philosophies of health that cycle into and amplify each other: restoration, where people use natural health products to restore themselves to prior states of wellness; and enhancement, where people strive for maximum wellness by optimizing their body's systems and functions.

Why Wellness Sells tracks the tension between these two ideas of...

How and why the idea of wellness holds such rhetorical—and harmful—power.

In Why Wellness Sells, Colleen Derkatch examines why the concept of wellness holds such rhetorical power in contemporary culture. Public interest in wellness is driven by two opposing philosophies of health that cycle into and amplify each other: restoration, where people use natural health products to restore themselves to prior states of wellness; and enhancement, where people strive for maximum wellness by optimizing their body's systems and functions.

Why Wellness Sells tracks the tension between these two ideas of wellness across a variety of sources, including interviews, popular and social media, advertising, and online activism. Derkatch examines how wellness manifests across multiple domains, where being "well" means different things, ranging from a state of pre-illness to an empowered act of good consumer-citizenship, from physical or moral purification to sustenance and care, and from harm reduction to optimization. Along the way, Derkatch demonstrates that the idea of wellness may promise access to the good life, but it serves primarily as a strategy for coping with a devastating and overwhelming present.

Drawing on scholarship in the rhetoric of health and medicine, the health and medical humanities, and related fields, Derkatch offers a nuanced account of how language, belief, behavior, experience, and persuasion collide to produce and promote wellness, one of the most compelling—and harmful—concepts that govern contemporary Western life. She explains that wellness has become so pervasive in the United States and Canada because it is an ever-moving, and thus unachievable, goal. The concept of wellness entrenches an individualist model of health as a personal responsibility, when collectivist approaches would more readily serve the health and well-being of whole populations.

Reviews

Reviews

'Wellness is ever present in lives increasingly lived in crisis,' Colleen Derkatch writes in her book Why Wellness Sells. Wellness, she argues, presents collective social ills as problems for the individual to solve through some alchemy of consumer behavior.

Like the devil himself, the wellness industry approaches us with a stylish outfit, a winning smile and the false promise of a life without suffering. Not only does Colleen Derkatch see the scam of wellness for what it is, she takes it apart and shows us exactly how it works. Why Wellness Sells is a deft, incisive analysis of a modern scourge.

Wellness cultures and practices are political. Wellness is a source of income and influence, but also a way of making people feel that it is their fault that they don't feel healthy or contented. After you read this wonderful book, you will never see the wellness-industrial-complex the same way again.

In this lively, accessible book, Colleen Derkatch explains the underlying cultural and rhetorical logics that make "wellness" marketable. Derkatch expertly analyzes everything from Instagram posts to interview data, showing readers how appeals to restoration and enhancement reflect consumers' ways of navigating the systemic pressures of twenty-first century life.

I loved this book. Not only is Why Wellness Sells a beautifully written, original, and rigorous piece of scholarship that expands our scholarly understanding of health, illness, and wellness—and, importantly, their intersections—but it's also eminently readable, clearly and compellingly argued, and its subject matter couldn't be timelier. It's one of the best academic books I've read in a long time.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
272
ISBN
9781421445281
Illustration Description
19 b&w photos
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter One. Wellness as Incipient Illness
Chapter Two. Wellness as Self-Management
Chapter Three. Wellness as Harm Reduction
Chapter Four. Wellness as Survival Strategy
Chapter

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter One. Wellness as Incipient Illness
Chapter Two. Wellness as Self-Management
Chapter Three. Wellness as Harm Reduction
Chapter Four. Wellness as Survival Strategy
Chapter Five. Wellness as Optimization
Chapter Six. Wellness as Performance
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Colleen Derkatch
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Colleen Derkatch

Colleen Derkatch (TORONTO, ON) is an associate professor in the Department of English at Toronto Metropolitan University and the author of Bounding Biomedicine: Evidence and Rhetoric in the New Science of Alternative Medicine.