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Diseases are valued as the central facts in the medical view… is a feeling, an experience of unhealth which is entirely personal, interior to the person of the patient.
Often it accompanies disease, but the disease may be undeclared, as in the early stages of cancer or tuberculosis or diabetes.
But nowadays the word is more commonly used without a hyphen to refer to a “disorder of structure or function in an animal or plant of such a degree as to produce or threaten to produce detectable illness or disorder”—or again, more narrowly, to “a definable variety of such a disorder, usually with specific signs or symptoms or affecting a specific location”.
Sometimes illness exists where no disease can be found.
Traditional medical education has made the deafening silence of illness-in-the-absence-of-disease unbearable to the clinician. Sickness is a social role, a status, a negotiated position in the world, a bargain struck between the person henceforward called ‘sick’, and a society which is prepared to recognise and sustain him.
Concepts such as disease and health can be difficult to define precisely.
Part of the reason for this is that they embody value judgments and are rooted in metaphor.