The human society has been faced with different challenges throughout its history. In this respect, there are various issues in the society that have raised controversial arguments prompting further studies and research by scholars and researchers. Among these issues is illness or rather sickness in the society. Throughout the history of mankind, there are different sicknesses and ailments that have been experienced by mankind. In line with this, there are different myths that are associated with these diseases and ailments. Whereas some of these myths are right or rather close to the truth, most of these myths are baseless and have only managed in creating fear among people who have been affected in the society.
Following this point, Susan Sontag (2001) argues that are different metaphors that are attached to various diseases and ailments in the society that have shaped the way people perceive these diseases and ailments and the people who have been affected. According to Sontag (2001), irrespective of the fact that all diseases are believed to have medical solutions in this era of medicinal advancements, there are still myths that characterized certain diseases in the society (5). These metaphors are associated with the origin of these diseases and ailments in the society, and their effects on people in the society. In line with this, these effects have been found to be the most influential factors on the attitude that is developed by these people in the society.
There are various types of diseases and ailments that have raised serious issues in the society in regard to the way they are perceived the society as a whole. Among these diseases and ailments is cancer. In references to the arguments that are presented by Sontag (2001), the origin of metaphors towards diseases such as cancer in the society emanates from the fact these diseases at one particular time seriously affected people especially in terms of immature termination life of the people who were affected (6). It was believed that when somebody contracted cancer in the society, the chances of that person living were drastically reduced. On the other hand, people believe that due to severity of such a disease, no one could tell whether interacting with a person who was affected could also affect him or her.
The morality of cancer too in the society was a controversial issue in the sense that there are people who believed that cancer was a curse and anybody that was affected may have committed some evil to the gods or to a particular society and that is why such a person was being affected a disease that had no healing or rather treatment (Sontag 102). Therefore, the metaphors on cancers originated from the traditional beliefs that the gods punished people with diseases when these people turned away from the will of the gods. With such traditional background, one who had wronged the gods was secluded from the society and no one could dare associate himself or herself with such a person. Therefore, arguing from this perspective, cancer patients were abhorred by the society since this was a punishment they deserved (157).
Cancer was widely associated with emotional problems that were cited as the major cause of this disease in the society. It was argued that when one was emotionally disturbed, he or she had a high probability of contracting cancer in the society (Sontag 50). Therefore, there was a growing body or rather group of literal critics that argued that the psychological status of a person influenced at great lengths the ability of a person to contract cancer. It was argued that people who had contracted or rather affected by cancer were emotionally depressed, both among those that were considered to be close relatives and those that were affected yet they were not close relatives.
There are various issues that this suggests about societies across the globe. To begin with, the tendency of societies across the world to believe and hold in anything that they believe is of paramount importance in the society is of utmost importance. In line with this, whereas technological advancement have been able to shed light on the causes of diseases in the society, there are still high tendencies whereby people have focused more on what was held in the past concerning cancer rather than focusing on the discoveries that have been made in the medical world.
Therefore, the greatest source of metaphors in the society concerning cancer emanated from the fact that this disease had no known cure at the time it was discovered. In this line of thought, many people in the society in the 20th century perished from the effects of this disease. It is also important for one to realize that death is one of the most dreaded factor or event in the society. Therefore, as a result of this dread of death, when one realized that a particular person was diseased and there was on the highway to death, one had to cut links with such a person lest one is also affected. Similarly, since the society shunned away from people that had cancer since they had no opportunity of living for a long time, people who discovered that they had cancer kept this as a secret and could not allow the society to come to the knowledge that one had been affected by cancer (Sontag 7). As a result, they kept secret their medical reports and could not reveal the contents of these reports to the public. This portrays a society that is more based on beliefs and theories that are in some cases baseless in nature yet have a lot of influence on the general society.
However, Sontag (2001) believes that the society should focus on the illness itself and on the people it affects in the society rather than dwelling on the myths and stereotypes that are associated with cancers (6). Similarly, she believes that the time has come for the society to act on justified facts rather than relying on the studies and research that were carried out yet based on myths and stereotypes. It is important to note that Sontag brings out the fact that whereas the society believes that when one has contracted cancer, he or she will finally dies due to this disease. However, this is not always the case. Similarly, the fact that people who are affected may have certain characters, this does not mean that people with such characters are susceptible to cancer. In her arguments, the plague metaphor is the sole cause of grief in the society and it is one of the biggest causes of a distorted society in regard to cancer (Sontag 141).
I tend to agree with Sontag on the fact that whereas diseases such as cancer are a threat to health in the society, they should not be perceived as the ultimate cause of death. Importantly, the perception that when one is affected by cancer is as a result of an evil or a sin that one had committed, or it is some kind of demonic power should not be the driving force in the society. Rather, there is need to understand that in the world that people live in, there were two sides of life; wellness and sickness. Whereas people tended to desire wellness in their lives, sickness was inevitable.
In conclusion, one can argue that the position of wellness and sickness in the society has continued to shift, with people adopting different metaphors than the ones they had before. For instance, in regard to cancer, the medical discoveries have lessened the amount of weight that is attached to myths that were associated with cancer many years ago. However, it is important for one to note that while it is easy to create a myth in the life of a person, erasing this myth from the society and creating a right perception takes a longer period of time than expected.