You may have noticed I love playing with the English language, making puns, juggling with homophones. I tend to be an early adopter as they say in the electronics industry. I pick up new words in the same way lyre birds pick up pretty objects. However, you may have also noticed that on certain rare occasions I can be a tad irascible, and this can happen when a word sets my teeth on edge.
This week I encountered the word wellness. This vile neologism was coined in the 1970s, and the World Health Organisation, who should know a damn sight better, define it thus. ‘’Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices towards a healthy and fulfilling life.’ Since they also feel we’re all complete idiots, they babble on a bit more ‘… a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of illness.’
This seems to me to be a bit of a circular construct, since it involves the concept of well-being, which when I was growing up was a perfectly adequate noun that continues to be adequate to this day.
More annoyingly, some bunch of charlatans runs an outfit called the National Wellness Institute. This advocates the, and I quote, ‘Six Dimensions of Wellness.’ I rather imagine this bunch of near fraudsters makes a huge amount of money from gullible New Age hippies excited by the psychobabble.
Now I know psychobabble is a neologism, but at least it’s descriptive and, more importantly, useful.