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The Alzheimer Conundrum by Margaret Lock

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Chapter 2

Striving to Standardize Alzheimer Disease

Depending on where you set your sights, Alzheimer disease is a scientific puzzle, a medical whodunit, a psychosocial tragedy, a financial disaster or an ethical, legal and political dilemma.

—Zaven Khachaturian, “Plundered Memories”1

The historian of medicine Charles Rosenberg writes, “[T]he modern history of diagnosis is inextricably related to disease specificity, to the notion that diseases can and should be thought of as entities existing outside the unique manifestations of illness in particular men and women.”2 Rosenberg adds, “Diagnosis labels, defines, and predicts and, in doing so, helps constitute and legitimate the reality that it discerns.”3 In elaborating on this “specificity revolution,” ...

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