"Illness is always a social construct," says Dr. Nortin Hadler, professor of medicine and microbiology. "People have to agree -- both people, in general, and those in the medical community -- that a life experience should be labeled an illness," Hadler says. "For example, the Victorians medicalized orgasm, and we medicalize the lack of it."
Some conditions, such as Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, are particularly contentious. Many medical professionals say that problems such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder are legitimate conditions that warrant treatment. But their acceptance within the medical community has not stopped debate on their very existence. Conditions that meet with skepticism include:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): severe, debilitating fatigue; non-specific pain and other symptoms are also common hallmarks of the condition
Morgellons Syndrome: the sprouting of inorganic material -- including fibers and crystals -- from the skin.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): seemingly insurmountable anxiety when it comes to interacting in certain social situations
Intermittent Explosive Disorder: a tendency to fly into uncontrolled rage
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): a diagnosis applied to children who display such frequent and aggressive defiance of their parents that it disrupts the lives of those within the family
* ABC News May 27, 2008