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Disease or Decision?

 Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.


This week, the American Medical Association declared obesity a disease. They did this in order to allow doctors to give people a diagnosis so that they would be able to be treated for it within the medical system. Obesity is the latest malady to enter the “is it a disease or a decision” debate. Alcoholism, sex addiction, and even homosexuality have all been part of the disease/decision debate and have sparked angry discourse on both sides. People get really intense and even resort to nasty name calling when they have a strong opinion about these issues.

Now, I’m not here to give my opinion (although I have a strong one; a fact not shocking to those who know me). Larry and I have had quite a few lively discussions about whether or not a behaviorially based condition can be considered a disease or not.

The important part of the disease/decision discussion, for me, are the questions that the subject raises.  If an obese person frames their condition as a disease, are they more or less likely to take action to correct it? Is a disease something that “happens” to you, like cancer? But even with cancer, does that “just happen” to you? Which is the disease–the cancer (or obesity) or the behavior that led to it? Can a person be obese and “healthy?” If so, do they still have a disease?

Again, I don’t have the answers to these questions–only my personal opinions. On the back of our business cards, Larry and I have Albert Einstein’s quote, “The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Whether you think that obesity is a disease or not is not the issue. What matters is that you don’t take the information at face value but really think about it. Question it. Challenge it. And, then, make your personal decisions (and the behaviors that go with them) based on a rational choice instead of what someone else is telling you. That is how you have the power to heal dis-ease–by using your mind to question assumptions, decide what matters most to you, and take actions based on that.

It’s far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has. Hippocrates
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