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March 10, 1962


JAMA. 1962;179(10):826. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050100080026

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On the Distinction Between Disease and Disorder  Ashley Montagu, Ph.D., Princeton, N.J.The concepts and the terms "disease" and "disorder" have long been used synonymously and interchangeably both in medicine and in common parlance. It seems that it would constitute a contribution to greater clarity of thought and practice were these two concepts recognized for what they are, as referring to 2 quite different colligations of conditions. To begin with the definition of these two orders of conditions: Disease is an acquired morbid change in any tissue or tissue of an organism, or in an organism as a whole, of specific microorganismal causation with characteristic symptoms. Disorder is a disturbance of structure or function or both due to a genetic or embryological failure in development or as the result of exogenous factors, such as certain chemical substances, injury, or disease. It may be inborn or acquired.The difference between the

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