Medicine: Free Will & Drink

What makes a man an alcoholic? Alcoholism, answer psychiatrists, is a symptom of mental disease, and thus chronic drinking in many cases may be as unavoidable and blameless as catching a cold. But last week a Pennsylvania court, in a case involving alcoholism, contradicted the psychiatrists' view, argued that a man can avoid becoming an alcoholic if he wants to.

Allen G. Lynch, 43, a Pittsburgh lawyer, drank himself out of his practice. After several hospital attempts at a cure failed, he wound up in helpless seclusion oh a friend's farm. His estranged wife sued the Mutual Life Insurance Co. for benefits...