Meaning is medicine: an analysis of meaning and its potential to heal and transform

Open Access
Lohr, Rachel Ann
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Robert Scott Kretchmar, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jinger S. Gottschall, Honors Advisor
  • meaning
  • exercise
  • medicine
  • philosophy of exercise
  • philosophy of meaning
  • holistic health
  • movement
  • experience
Health care professionals are constantly striving to improve medicine in order to better treat their patients. One recent enhancement effort called “Exercise is Medicine” encourages physicians to prescribe exercise as a way to maintain and improve patient health. This thesis suggests a more holistic alternative to the “Exercise is Medicine” campaign which I label “Meaning is Medicine”. Using a variety of texts as support, I address the characteristics of meaningful experience, the process of meaning development, the evolution of meaning, and finally the significance of meaningful movement in our lives. The practical application of this research suggests that meaningful rather than simply mechanical medical movement more effectively promotes the entire well-being of the individual. Since human beings are meaning seeking creatures who are moved and transformed by meaningful experience, it is important to maintain such experience at the center of medical treatment and activities.