Has aging ever been considered healthy?
Frontiers in Genetics. Genetics of Aging, 6, 00202, 2015
The current research topic inquires: “Should we treat aging as a disease?” Yet, in this inquiry, the question “Can aging be considered a disease?” is secondary, while the more primary question really must be “Is aging treatable?” Paradoxically, the answer given to the second question largely determines the answer to the first. The perceived unchangeable, and hence untreatable, nature of aging is the root cause for many subsequent rationalizations, even to the point of claiming the desirability of aging-derived suffering and death. This is a well recognized psychological phenomenon sometimes referred to as “apologism” (Gruman, 1966) or even “deathism,” a ramification of the “sour grapes syndrome,” vilifying something that we think we cannot attain, while accepting as “good” or “healthy” something that we believe is inevitable for us (such as degenerative aging). Yet, I argue that, historically, medical tradition has always recognized the morbid character of aging and endeavored to fight it. The rationalizations of aging as “natural,” “justified,” or “healthy” could never entirely prevail.