Building a Mystery: Alzheimer's Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Beyond

In this paper, we suggest some of the dimensions of the problematic concept of Alzheimer Disease (AD) as a natural disease discerned by increasingly sophisticated medical scientific progress. Taking a page from Max Weber concerning unique events, we show some of the conceptual building blocks and social processes that have coalesced into the perception of certain phenomena as abnormalities that are seen as implicated in the development of a degenerative disease distinct from the process of normal, but variable, brain aging. We note some of the decisions and social forces pushing for particular conceptualizations, interpretations, and reifications of brain alterations. In so doing, we do not argue that there is no "there" there. Rather, we suggest that the mystery of the "there" (i.e., AD, mild cognitive impairment) may not be much different (if at all) from, and probably is, the mystery of the "everywhere" (i.e., aging).