The Wellness Syndrome Book Summary - The Wellness Syndrome Book explained in key points
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The Wellness Syndrome summary

Carl Cederström and André Spicer

Why healthy living isn't all it says it is

3 (47 ratings)
12 mins
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    The Wellness Syndrome
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    An obsession with wellness has become an ideology, limiting freedom of thought and action.

    Many people consider the pursuit of wellness a lifelong goal. To stay on track, these people avoid “unhealthy” influences, whether it be eating fatty pork chops or smoking cigarettes. They head to a Pilates class daily and occasionally enjoy some pampering at a fancy spa.

    Eating correctly and exercising daily – what’s wrong with that?

    Well, we first have to consider that “wellness” means more than exercising regularly and eating healthily. Wellness is an ideology; it holds that a healthy body is a necessary state for success and happiness in life.

    Thinking this way marks a significant societal change. If you cared about your looks and health decades ago, people would think you vain and superficial. Today, the cult of wellness stresses that to be successful in everything in life, you need a fat-free, fit body and a clear, capable state of mind.

    The problem is that adhering to such an ideology compulsively can limit your freedom of thought, causing you to miss important experiences.

    The wellness doctrine is based on a narrow way of thinking that revolves exclusively around health while forbidding many activities such as drinking or taking recreational drugs. Such activities society used to view as not only enjoyable but also important rites of passage.

    Many American universities now require students to sign a wellness contract upon enrollment. Students pledge to abstain from alcohol and drugs and devote themselves to living healthily.

    Yet these straight-edge students will undoubtedly miss out on youthful experiences that once inspired society’s greatest thinkers. French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre famously indulged in coffee, cigarettes and alcohol while at school, his circle of friends enjoying discussions of absurdity and revolution.

    Such experiences were mind-expanding! Contemporary students of philosophy pushed to follow the tenets of wellness might miss out.

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    What is The Wellness Syndrome about?

    The Wellness Syndrome (2015) explains why a health craze that’s sweeping the world may not be all that healthy for you. These blinks get to the root of why we’re obsessed with making ourselves happier, healthier and harder-working – and who is reaping the benefits of this obsession.

    Best quote from The Wellness Syndrome

    When health becomes an ideology, the failure to conform becomes a stigma.

    —Carl Cederström and André Spicer
    example alt text

    Who should read The Wellness Syndrome?

    • Self-help practitioners looking for alternate viewpoints
    • Students of sociology
    • People suffering from work-related anxiety or depression

    About the Author

    Carl Cederström is an associate professor of organization theory at Stockholm University. His work has been published in the Guardian, the New York Times and the Harvard Business Review.

    André Spicer is a leading thinker on subjects such as organizational behavior, leadership and corporate responsibility. He is a professor of organizational behavior at Cass Business School at City, University of London and the founding director of ETHOS: The Center for Responsible Enterprise at the University.

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