The Globalization of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit

Paperback | April 25, 2010

byBruce Alexander

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The Globalization of Addiction presents a radical rethink about the nature of addiction. Scientific medicine has failed when it comes to addiction. There are no reliable methods to cure it, prevent it, or take the pain out of it. There is no durable consensus on what addiction is, what causes it, or what should be done about it. Meanwhile, it continues to increase around the world. Thisbook argues that the cause of this failure to control addiction is that the conventional wisdom of the 19th and 20th centuries focused too single-mindedly on the afflicted individual addict. Although addiction obviously manifests itself in individual cases, its prevalence differs dramaticallybetween societies. For example, it can be quite rare in a society for centuries, and then become common when a tribal culture is destroyed or a highly developed civilization collapses. When addiction becomes commonplace in a society, people become addicted not only to alcohol and drugs, but to athousand other destructive pursuits: money, power, dysfunctional relationships, or video games. A social perspective on addiction does not deny individual differences in vulnerability to addiction, but it removes them from the foreground of attention, because social determinants are more powerful. This book shows that the social circumstances that spread addiction in a conquered tribe or a falling civilisation are also built into today's globalizing free-market society. A free-market society is magnificently productive, but it subjects people to irresistible pressures towards individualismand competition, tearing rich and poor alike from the close social and spiritual ties that normally constitute human life. People adapt to their dislocation by finding the best substitutes for a sustaining social and spiritual life that they can, and addiction serves this function all too well. The book argues that the most effective response to a growing addiction problem is a social and political one, rather than an individual one. Such a solution would not put the doctors, psychologists, social workers, policemen, and priests out of work, but it would incorporate their practices in alarger social project. The project is to reshape society with enough force and imagination to enable people to find social integration and meaning in everyday life. Then great numbers of them would not need to fill their inner void with addictions.

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From the Publisher

The Globalization of Addiction presents a radical rethink about the nature of addiction. Scientific medicine has failed when it comes to addiction. There are no reliable methods to cure it, prevent it, or take the pain out of it. There is no durable consensus on what addiction is, what causes it, or what should be done about it. Meanwh...

Bruce Alexander is a psychologist and Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University, where he has worked since 1970. His primary research interest has been the psychology of addiction. He is best known in the UK for the "Rat Park" experiments, which helped to demonstrate the falsity of the outworn belief that simple exposure to narcot...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:488 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:April 25, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199588716

ISBN - 13:9780199588718

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Table of Contents

Part I - Roots of Addiction in Free-market Society1. Vancouver as prototype2. Addiction1, Addiction2, Addiction3, Addiction43. The dislocation theory of addiction4. Psychosocial integration is a necessity5. Free-market society undermines psychosocial integration6. Addiction is a way of adapting to dislocation (1) - historical evidence7. Addiction is a way of adapting to dislocation (2) - quantitative research, clinical reports and 'spam'8. Addiction is a way of adapting to dislocation (3) - the myth of the demon drugsPart II - The Interaction of Addiction and Society9. Addiction and society10. The role of addiction in the civilised madness of the 21st century11. Getting by12. Spiritual treatment for addiction: the 'fifth pillar'13. Socrates' 'Master passions' and Dikaiosune14. From blindness and paralysis to action15. Social actions to control addiction: question period

Editorial Reviews

"This is, without a doubt, the most intriguing and painstaking book on addiction I have read for some time...The Globalisation of Addiction is scholarly, meticulously researched, passionately critical of the free-market economy, biased, speculative, selective, and quite wonderful...highlyrecommended...this is one of the most remarkable addiction texts of the decade." --John B. Davies, Addiction Research and Theory 2008