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July 1962

The Disease Concept of Alcoholism

Arch Intern Med. 1962;110(1):133-134. doi:10.1001/archinte.1962.03620190135025

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Alcoholism: An Interdisciplinary Approach.  By David J. Pittman, Ph.D. Price, $3.75. Pp. 96. Charles C Thomas, Publisher, 301-327 E. Lawrence Ave., Springfield, Ill., 1959.Does addiction mean vice or disease? Does a man drink too much because he is bad or because he is sick? The debate is an old one. In 1604, James I of England and VI of Scotland asserted that smoking was "a branch of the sin of drunkenness, which is the root of all sins.......a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless." The historical view of addiction as a vice remained fashionable until the middle of the last century. About 100 years ago, people started to change their opinion. A few physicians, including the superintendents of the

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