January 28, 2020 — June 10, 2023

Figure 1

Stub. On the mechanics and political economy of calling phenomena diseases, versus other classifications.

Contested questions: Are the following phenomena best regarded through the lense of disease, or not? ADHD? depression? cognitive enhancement by nootropics? Personality disorders Transgender identities Sexual orientation? General weirdness? Treating things, even parts of things, as medical conditions can be stigmatising. But also, observationally speaking, it can motivate the apparatus of society to treat them.

One alternative seems to be classifying these sates as moral failings, which rarely seems helpful. Are there universal principles we can find for this, or merely contingent attempts to solve for marginal improvements to the status quo?

Why does classifying something as a disease make it more legitimate to treat it, whereas mere need to thrive does not? What are the status effects of calling something an illness versus a preference? I’m curious about the interaction with the great society, making disease legible and thus implicating it in e.g. the health care system.

1 Incoming

  • Sam Atis, in More notes on ADHD, connects ADHD medication to nootropics and finds no meaningful differentiation.
  • Lionel Shriver compares transgenderism to anorexia. Because this is a fraught topic I will flag that I diagree with her conclusion, but she does some interesting work there.

Diseased thinking: dissolving questions about disease.

Sluggish - by Jesse Meadows

[…]this is a newsletter where I write about disability and capitalism, covering the politics of mental health, the history of popular psychology, and the philosophies of living outside the norm.

2 References