- The Normal and the Pathological by Georges Canguilhem, translated by Carolyn Fawcett and Robert Cohen
Zone, 327 pp, £21.95, June 1989, ISBN 0 942299 58 2
When is a disease not a disease? No quibbling academic riddle this, but a problem increasingly pressing upon medical practice and ethics alike. So many questions crowd in. Is it valid to talk of a person being ill without a disease, or having a disease without being sick? When and how do we draw dividing-lines between conditions, disabilities and abnormalities, on the one hand, and diseases, on the other? This can be a crucial issue when it comes to final authority in deciding the fate of severely-malformed babies. If, say, Down’s Syndrome is a disease, then, arguably, it’s the doctor’s dilemma; if not, not.
The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.