Traditionally, the notion of rehabilitate was widely applied to different spheres of life but, in actuality, this term became really relevant only in the modern epoch. To put it more precisely, the necessity of rehabilitating became really significant only in the 20th century when the development of human society and general progress of the mankind contributed to the development of humanism and growing interest to each individual and environment people live in. At the same time, it is obvious that the concept of rehabilitate is quite complicated and it is hardly possible to give a clear definition of this concept that would be universal and applicable to absolutely all possible cases.
Nevertheless, it is possible to attempt to understand the essence of the concept of rehabilitate that will help define it.
In this respect, it is necessary to underline that basically rehabilitate implies the efforts targeting the recovery or restoration of something to the initial or normal state. In order to better understand this concept, it is possible to refer to some practical examples which provide concrete information on the process and essence of rehabilitating.
For instance, Manny Fernandez’s article “An Explosion in Harlem; 20 People Are Injured”¯ helps reveal the essence origin and essence of rehabilitating.
To put it more precisely, the author depicts the explosion in Harlem which resulted in numerous destructions of buildings and injuries of people living in the area of 10 West 119th Street (Fernandez, 2007). Basically, these destructions and injuries actually provoke the necessity to recover and restore the area, including buildings that were affected by the explosion and numerous people that became its victims. In such a way, it is possible to rehabilitate when some harm, like destructions and injuries in the case of the explosion, is caused. This may be viewed as the origin or the starting point of rehabilitating, though it sounds a bit paradoxically, taking into consideration the ultimate goal of this process, which, as it has been already defined above, targets at the restoration of destroyed buildings and the recovery of injured people. At the larger scale this means that rehabilitating implies the assistance in the restoration and recovery of any matter to its original state before any harm has been caused.
At the same time, it is obvious that such a definition does not fully reflect all the nuances of the process of rehabilitating, its essence and various shades of meaning that this process may actually include. For instance, from the arguments discussed above it is possible to view rehabilitating as the process which basically refers to the physical or material world, while in actuality, this concept is substantially wider and more complicated and have various shades of meaning. To put it more precisely, rehabilitating may also refer to spiritual or psychological sphere. Returning to the example of the victims of the explosion in Harlem, it should be said that the victims, people who were injured in the accident, need not only physical rehabilitation, i.e. recovery through the proper treatment of their injuries until they will be in the shape as good as they have used to be just before the explosion. In other words, rehabilitating implies the minimization of the negative effects of the explosion and the return of people and environment to the normal state.
In fact, rehabilitating involves more complicated issues, such as psychological recovery because it is obvious that the victims of the explosion suffer not only physical hardships but moral and psychological ones as well. In practice, this means that the victims of the explosion need not only physical rehabilitation but also psychological one since psychological injuries may be even more severe, but less obvious, than physical injuries. This is why these people apparently need psychological recovery from the accident they were victims of or even if they just witnessed this accident. In such a context, rehabilitating may involve not only direct victims who were physically affected by the explosion but it is also necessary to rehabilitate psychologically those people who witnessed the accident as well as relatives of its victims.
Furthermore, it is necessary to realize the fact that rehabilitating may also be viewed from a different angle. For instance, if a person was accused of organizing the explosion and sentenced to a long term in jail but in actuality he was innocent, than this person would also need to be rehabilitated. This means that he/she would need to restore his/her social status, public image, his/her honor and regain the respect of his/her social environment.
Consequently, in such a context, rehabilitating may be viewed as a process of elimination of injustice that caused significant physical or moral harm to a person, his/her honor and dignity.
At the same time, rehabilitating may be viewed as a relatively new concept because in the past people paid little attention to restoration or recovery of other people, nor they paid any attention to the restoration of their environment. The reason was quite obvious since the life in the past epochs were more severe, environment less affected by human activities, people less concerned about each others’ physical and psychological state because the value of human life, human rights and basic humanistic principles were not respected by people living in the past epochs.
In stark contrast, as the civilization progressed, the value of human life, concerns about human natural environment, humanism and democracy progressed too. The need in the recovery and restoration of the normal life of each individual and entire society as well as human environment became a vital necessity because of the growing consciousness of the value of human life and environment. This means that rehabilitating became an essential process in the maintenance of the normal life of human society where the well-being of each member defines the well-being of the entire community, while the rehabilitating of environment provides the community with positive perspectives of the future development.
As a result, it is possible to conclude that the need to rehabilitate became really important only within the last century when the mankind has witnessed the disastrous effects of its activities and realized the need in the recovery and restoration of its environment and necessity to take care of the life, physical and psychological state of each individual. In such a situation, rehabilitating is supposed to be the effective tool which could guarantee the maintenance of harmony and balance in society, life of each individual and human environment by means of restoration and recovery of the damaged matter to its original state. Consequently, rehabilitating is, in a way, an indicator of the level of the development of society since the more developed and humanistic the society is the more it is concerned on rehabilitating.