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Alcoholism

vs

Dipsomania

Both are mistaken as being synonymous, but the difference I feel like is best explained by their histories, like any other thing or person – it’s where they were born and in what culture they were immersed in.

First I’m going to ramble on about some things that don’t seem to have any relevance and at the end hopefully I’ll find a way to magically connect them all like the end of a good mystery, not leaving any piece of evidence without a role.

When I was born, it was a cesarean and it wasn’t just me being pulled in to the realm of the living, but I had the company of my twin sister. Although in reality, any of us could’ve been deemed the ‘elder’ of the twins, it really was the luck of the draw. And I won, with 40 seconds of additional independent oxygen and for the sake of record keeping, one whole minute more to my birth certificate I had become the oldest and would use that and will continue to use that whenever the opportunity arises.

Dipsomania happens to not just be the elder of the words, but possibly not even siblings. Before I make this too confusing:

alcoholism
ˈalkəhɒlɪz(ə)m/
noun
noun: alcoholism
  1. addiction to the consumption of alcoholic drink; alcohol dependency.
    “he had a long history of depression, drug abuse, and alcoholism”
dipsomania
ˌdɪpsə(ʊ)ˈmeɪnɪə/
noun
noun: dipsomania
  1. alcoholism, specifically in a form characterized by intermittent bouts of craving for alcohol.

Alcoholism, was first coined in 1852 by a Swedish Medical Professor by the name of Magnus Huss, before this it was usually referred to as habitual drunkenness or the like.  However, the same resource shows Dipsomania being cited in 1843 as the morbid craving of alcohol. It’s for this reason I don’t like the above definitions. I find it harsh to define something by its successor. A person shouldn’t be defined by who came after them, but for who they were.

Dipsomania is the uncontrollable urge for alcohol, an irresistible, typically periodic craving.

Alcoholism is a psychophysiological dependence of alcohol.

See the difference yet? How is it fair that one word falls victim to the next?

I’m not sure if its apparent in my blog, but I seem to find my therapy in discussing semantics. I feel like the way we chose to communicate to one another and express ourselves says more than the words we create can tell.

My favourite example is one that first immersed my interest,

Anorexia in where I grew up, is commonly perceived as the fear of food, the fear of gaining weight, the fear of being ‘overweight’.

This word however, does not exist in Germany – so my Oma told me in extreme stress and confusion at my diagnosis back when I was my sickly 16 year old self.

One morning when I was sitting at a school assembly enduring one of the usual guest speaker talking about her time in Germany, I found out what they actually call it, and what it actually means. Unfortunately I can’t quite remember what exactly the word was, but I do remember what she said it meant : the addiction to being skinny.

And although I grew up in Australia, and my diagnosis had defined me as being afraid, it was the definition from 16,000km which made sense to me, where my mother was born, to which I could identify with.

Its for this reason why I look at words, why I see them as more then the letters that form them, but as their own identity, with a history and a hometown, with their own story.

Till next time x

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