Addiction: A Disorder of Choice

Gene M Heyman

Addiction: A Disorder of Choice

In this controversial book, Gene Heyman argues that conventional wisdom about addiction - that it is a disease, a compulsion beyond conscious control - is wrong. Drawing on psychiatric epidemiology, addicts' autobiographies, treatment studies, and advances in behavioral economics, Heyman claims that addiction is voluntary. He shows that drug use, like all choices, is influenced by preferences and goals. But just as there are successful dieters, there are successful ex-addicts. In fact, addiction is the psychiatric disorder with the highest rate of recovery. But what ends an addiction? At the heart of Heyman's analysis is a startling view of choice and motivation that applies to all choices, not just the choice to use drugs. 4.2 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
Addiction: A Disorder of Choice

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Psychology & Psychiatry
Format Hardback
Pages 216
RRP £19.95
Date of Publication May 2009
ISBN 978-0674032989
Publisher Harvard University Press
 

In this controversial book, Gene Heyman argues that conventional wisdom about addiction - that it is a disease, a compulsion beyond conscious control - is wrong. Drawing on psychiatric epidemiology, addicts' autobiographies, treatment studies, and advances in behavioral economics, Heyman claims that addiction is voluntary. He shows that drug use, like all choices, is influenced by preferences and goals. But just as there are successful dieters, there are successful ex-addicts. In fact, addiction is the psychiatric disorder with the highest rate of recovery. But what ends an addiction? At the heart of Heyman's analysis is a startling view of choice and motivation that applies to all choices, not just the choice to use drugs.

Reviews

The Financial Times

Christopher Caldwell

Magnificent... This is a rich book that reverberates far beyond the field of addiction studies. Attentive readers will find in it lessons about debt-financed consumerism, environmental spoliation and the whole, vast range of self-destructive behaviour that we engage in out of self-interest.

13/06/2009

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The Guardian

Steven Poole

Psychologist Heyman argues that addiction involves no "involuntariness" or "compulsiveness", but that addicts tend to use "local book-keeping" instead of aiming at a "global equilibrium". So for them, the (rationally) anticipated pleasure of the next dose weighs more than the (rationally) anticipated pleasure of a drug-free week, or month, or life. (Compare a dieter who scoffs a chocolate cake.) This generalises to the slightly terrifying proposition: "It is possible to continue to make the best choice from a local perspective and end up at the worst possible outcome." Luckily, Heyman concludes, what is voluntary can be changed - but only if it is recognised as voluntary.

20/06/2009

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