THE CONCEPT OF SOCIAL pathology and social medicine has more and more focused general attention on the foundations of public health and preventive medicine in modern society. The subject of social medicine and its teaching has recently been widely discussed both in England and the United States; in the French and German language areas such developments had taken place some decades earlier. It is worth while to dwell for a moment on a more precise definition of the science of social pathology to avoid all further confusion. By the term “Social Pathology” is meant in this essay the systematic doctrine demonstrating, as far as possible by quantitative means, the interrelationship between genuine pathological conditions of man, i.e., human diseases in the clinical–medical sense and social conditions of the human environment. A short definition may be formulated as follows:
The relation between disease and social conditions is the content of social pathology; its method is necessarily a sociological description of this relationship which, for simplicity’s sake, is mostly based on a statistical analysis of the quantitative findings. Its goal is the generalization of hygienic culture among all members of the community and their descendents through medical care, health education, protective legislation, and other means of social policy… .
From the angle of social medicine it is the frequency of a disease and its social–pathological type which makes it a social problem; it is not necessarily a disease hard to diagnose… .