What is the definition of apithology?

It is helpful to recognise the difference between the definitions of apithology as a concept, the field of apithology research, and the discipline of apithology as a formal inquiry praxis.

For those needing a simple definition of the concept the formal reference is:

api·thol·o·gy (a pith l -j ) n. pl. api·thol·o·gia

1. The systemic study of the nature of wellness and its causes, processes, development, and consequences.

Source: Varey, W. (2008) Apithology: An emergent continuum. Aspects of Apithology: The Journal of Apithological Practice. 1(1) p.3.

This definition is merely the antonym of the definition of pathology. It does not define the field, only the counterpart concept to pathology.


A formal description of the field of apithology research is:

“The research field of apithology concerns the study of the systemic causes and effects of generativity and growth in living systems. It is the counterpart discipline to the field of pathology, which examines the systemic causes and effects of dissipation and decline in degenerative systems.” (p. 596)

Source: Varey, W. (2013). Apithological Inquiry: Learnings from an Ecological Aesthetic. Systems Research and Behavioral Science30(5), 596-606.


The praxis of apithological inquiry is also a formal research discipline and may be described as:

“Apithology is the discipline that studies the generative causes of health and wellness in living systems.”

Source: Varey, W. (2008) Apithology: An emergent continuum. Aspects of Apithology: The Journal of Apithological Practice. 1(1) pp.1-7.


Footnote: Because apithology is the study of generative dynamics, the field itself is under continuous development. It is considered not particularly good apithology practice to propose definitive definitions for emergent processes. The reason for this is the phenomenon may have altered or moved on while our definition remains fixed. The desire for rigidity and certainty is not a useful function in apithology inquiry and observation. This is one reason why different definitions are used for the field of apithology as the field itself expands.

Interestingly, one early practice in formal apithology training is for practitioners to study their own definition of apithology – and then confirm which of 360 known categories of apithology conceptions it may fit within. This reveals important information about one’s own capacity for apithology inquiry and observation (and in particular, self-adopted categories of exclusion). For more information on this practice see: Aspects of Apithology,Vol.2.No.3.).