Monday, March 22, 2010

ZenTiger Addicted to Free Will

I came across this fascinating opinion on addiction, that questions the idea that the addicts are unable to exercise choice in the matter of their addiction. I think it applies to far more than addiction, but in this society, addiction is seen as a reason not to try harder:
Now comes an important and provocative book called Addiction: A Disorder of Choice by the psychologist Gene Heyman, a research psychologist at McLean Hospital and a lecturer at Harvard. Heyman mounts a devastating assault on the brain-based model of addiction. Not that he views addiction as independent of the brain—no serious person could even entertain such a claim. What he rejects, however, is the notion that excessive drug or alcohol consumption is an irresistible act wholly beyond the user’s control, as the term “addiction,” commonly understood, implies. If anything, Heyman writes, “[a]ddiction … helps us understand voluntary behavior.” How so? “[B]ecause,” he explains, “it is not possible to understand addiction without understanding how we make choices.”
Good intentions aside, is the “brain disease” of addiction really beyond the control of the addict in the same that way that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or multiple sclerosis are beyond the control of the afflicted? Showing how the two differ is an important theme of the book. If, as Heyman says, “drug-induced brain change is not sufficient evidence that addiction is an involuntary disease state,” then how are we to distinguish between voluntary and involuntary behavior?
The remaining excerpt that explains this is over here, at Offsetting Behaviour - Satel on Addiction

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