Addiction and the Politics (and Poetics) of Personal Responsibility: me at AmCon

a listicle, and for some reason I saved the best stuff for the end, so feel free to hate me: There’s a narrative that comes up whenever addiction is discussed publicly nowadays: the narrative in which the disease of addiction essentially replaces a person’s free will.The barroom-wisdom version of it is the old line, “First the man takes a drink. Then the drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes the man.” A fairly heartbreaking version of it comes in this interview with author (and father of … [Read more...]

Seth Mnookin on Relapse and the Ghost World

One truism of addiction science is that long-term abuse rewires your brain and changes its chemistry, which is why triggers (or “associated stimuli,” in scientific parlance) are major risk factors for relapse. But these changes can be reversed over time. Walking past the apartment where my dealer used to live didn’t make me want to score; it made me feel as if I was in a phantasmagoria of two crosshatched worlds—but I was the only person who could see both realities. None of my colleagues at MIT, … [Read more...]

If Addiction Is Continuing a Behavior Which Hurts You and Others Because You Can’t Imagine Any Alternative…

what's the Drug War? Radley Balko has a must-read roundup of the knee-jerk and the damage done: ...To the extent that conservatives still defend the drug war (and there are fewer and fewer willing to do so), this is usually the way they go about it. Their argument is that drug use enslaves drug users with addiction, and that were drugs to be made legal, we’d all be robbed of the benefits of living in a populace of responsible citizens. Use and addiction would be common, thus shredding the moral … [Read more...]

“There’s This Thing That Keeps Rising in the Background”

Craving is “the one condition all addicts agree is their worst enemy,” Lewis said. “This is one place where science and subjectivity have to come together. Scientists need to focus on this, because addicts are completely unanimous about it. This is the enemy. It’s not physical withdrawal symptoms, it’s not relief. It is craving." Buddhism teaches that “craving is the fundamental engine of personality development,” Lewis said. “It’s what keeps us going around and around.” But if you don’t much li … [Read more...]

“Stephen King and That Awful Muttering Voice”: Me in AmSpec

now available in full: What do you do when you’re in a Stephen King novel, but you’re not a Stephen King character anymore? Or rather: What do you do when you’re Stephen King, but you’re not a Stephen King character anymore? more--spoilerous for the middle of The Shining, but I like this article. For more on the point I'm trying to make at the end, see here. … [Read more...]

“Stephen King and That Awful Muttering Voice”: Me in the American Spectator

It's an overview of King's work plus a review of his two most recent novels: What do you do when you’re in a Stephen King novel, but you’re not a Stephen King character anymore? Or rather: What do you do when you’re Stephen King, but you’re not a Stephen King character anymore? subscribers-only; I do actually think I make some good points here, so if you're interested in King you might get a hold of it. … [Read more...]

“Never Quite Free”: My series on portrayals of penitence concludes

with a look at the Mountain Goats, We Shall All Be Healed. This piece has a couple lines I really like: One way to mistell stories of penitence is to envision penance as a linear process of restoration. You do a bad thing, you feel bad, you make amends (often in a way which involves saying ritual words like “I’m sorry,” or doing something which offers an obvious symbolic parallel to your wrongdoing), status quo ante. There can be truly sublime portrayals of this kind of almost mathematical penit … [Read more...]


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