Medical Journal Article: Addictions as Real Physical Disease

1838 Words7 Pages
Charlie Van Houten HIS 240 Spring 2012 The definition of what constitutes a real "disease" is not as clear cut as one might think. One major area of concern has been the debate between those that believe that the conceptualization of a disease should be free from social influences/values versus those that state that the criteria use to define a disease, especially psychiatric disease like addiction, are a result of social definitions/values (e.g., Szasz, 2008). In general, most health professionals agree that the determination of what is or is not labeled as a disease should be free of value judgments and social influences and should rest on notions of intact biological functions in organisms and statistical departures of these functions from normalcy. Unfortunately, even these statistical foundations of normalcy are often based on social values (as is certainly the case in addictions) and departures from normalcy can either be dysfunctional (e.g., someone who is born with mental retardation) or relatively benign (e.g., someone who has extremely high intelligence). Many ask where should the line to demarcate disease from normalcy be drawn, at one or both ends of the spectrum of what is normal? Many contemporary definitions of the term "disease" still describe a disease as consisting of some form of cellular abnormality or derangement. Szasz (2008) suggested that in order to qualify as a disease any such deviation in cellular arrangement should consist of three
Open Document