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Alcoholism: Is It a Disease?

September 29, 1985

Money's intemperate letter asserts that alcoholism is a matter of choice rather than a disease. The heart of his conclusion is his own definition of disease as "something you catch, either by accident or unknowingly as a byproduct of a normal, innocent activity." Though alcoholism does fit his description, it is more useful to look to an authoritative source of definitions.

Webster's unabridged dictionary says disease is:

1--Uneasiness; distress.

2--Any departure from health; illness in general.

3--A particular destructive process in the body, with a specific cause and characteristic symptoms; specific illness; ailment; malady.

4--An evil or destructive tendency or state of affairs; as, bigotry is a disease of society.

In his effort to redefine words to fit his own moral pronouncement, Money displays symptoms of that social disease.



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