[ExI] Reinforcing our Prejudices

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sun Apr 20 00:56:52 UTC 2008

On 20/04/2008, Rafal Smigrodzki <rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com> wrote:

> ### Stathis, you seem to blur the distinction between "the fact of the
>  matter" (a set of behaviors, with more or less clear biological
>  underpinnings) and our opinion of it - whether it is called an
>  illness. Of course, there is a certain "Ding-an-Sich" to every disease
>  but whether we actually make it into a recognized medical problem is
>  especially in psychiatry a social issue. Yes, there is a biological
>  dimension, and a set of behaviors to e.g. homosexuality, but choosing
>  to call it a disease is culturally conditioned to a much larger extent
>  than our attitudes towards e.g. a broken leg.
>  Maybe there is a "medicine envy" among psychiatrists, like the
>  "physics envy" among biologists - wanting to say that every condition
>  they treat is like an elemental particle of the mind, rather than a
>  fuzzy concept.
>  Opinions and disparate values have a much greater impact on psychiatry
>  than on cardiology. Almost everybody will readily agree that heart
>  disease hurts, and then you die but our opinions on matters of the
>  mind are, legitimately, much more varied.

This is a legitimate observation, but as you said in an earlier post
there are clearly some conditions, such as schizophrenia, which are
the result of brain pathology, and historically are only part of
psychiatry rather than neurology because the pathology isn't obvious.
Epilepsy used to be considered a mental illness as well before EEG's.

Stathis Papaioannou

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