Chapter 5The Salutogenic Paradigm


In the late 1970s, Aaron Antonovsky, who was a medical sociologist, raised a new question in his book Health, Stress, and Coping (Antonovsky, 1979). He proposed a new way to look at health and illness, not as a dichotomy but as a continuum—the salutogenic model. Much more than the answers he supplied, the real revolution in Antonovsky's way of thinking was manifested in the questions he posed. However, in posing the question of salutogenesis, Antonovsky actually detached himself from his own past research, as well as from almost everyone else's research at that time, which focused on the need to explain pathology. This led him to feel what he described as a “strong sense of isolation” (Antonovsky, 1987). We trust that in the 21st century, these feelings have been replaced by “a strong sense of belonging” to the growing positive psychology movement (Linley, Joseph, Harrington, & Wood, 2006). Although the salutogenic theory stems from the sociology of health, it has been at the leading edge of a range of academic movements emphasizing human strengths and not just weaknesses, human capacities and not just limits, well-being and not just illness (Mittelmark, 2008). In this chapter, we aim to connect salutogenesis—which literally means the origins of health—with the positive psychology movement.

We believe that the philosophical assumptions and the conceptual background of salutogenesis can deepen ...

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