Personal responsibility and control over our bodies: when expectation exceeds reality.

Journal Article (Review;Journal Article)

Good health has become more than a means to personal goals such as greater attractiveness and increased longevity. It symbolizes self-control, hard work, ambition, and success in life. Inherent in this symbolism is the concept that the individual controls behavior, which in turn controls health. Although control over one's life plays an important role in both physical and mental health, the concept of personal control also infers responsibility. Positive attributes are accorded to people who are healthy, but those who fall ill, or those with less than the perfect body, are blamed and are thought to be self-indulgent, lazy, or even irresponsible and immoral. There is a tendency to overstate the impact of personal behavior on health. However, biological realities shape the degree to which health is under the control of the individual. The positive effects of behavior change must be balanced with the limits imposed by biology.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brownell, KD

Published Date

  • January 1, 1991

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 10 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 303 - 310

PubMed ID

  • 1935864

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1930-7810

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0278-6133

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037//0278-6133.10.5.303


  • eng