A groundbreaking new theory of addiction, explained through the real-life stories of former addicts.
The harm done by addicts to themselves and those around them has riveted public attention. From viewing addiction as a dead end for social misfits, we've come to see it as a treacherous predator, attacking our politicians, our entertainers, our relatives, and often ourselves. To explain addiction, to understand it, appears essential. And to that end, we've come to see it as a disease. What else can strike anyone at any time, divesting them of their resources, their self-control, and even their lives? The disease concept has long been at the heart of 12-step programs around the world. Research over the last 20 years, revealing neural changes that accompany substance abuse, seems to clinch the definition of addiction as a disease. And it gives us hope, because the label marks a familiar category, allowing us to box it and hand it over to the professionals.
Yet addiction is not a disease, says Marc Lewis. In this groundbreaking and provocative book, Lewis, a neuroscientist and himself a former addict, argues that addiction is a learned adaptation to emotional needs--a developmental process in mind and brain. It arises from the same attachment system that binds infants to their parents and lovers to each other. It builds on the same neuropsychological mechanisms that permit humans to focus on their goals and pursue them passionately. Addiction is unquestionably destructive, but it's also quite normal. That is what makes it so difficult to grasp--societally, philosophically, scientifically, and clinically.
This book explains why the disease model is wrong--and why that wrongness is disguised and made worse by a biased view of the data. Lewis examines the brain changes associated with addiction and reinterprets them as developmental changes in an organ designed to restructure itself. He explains brain changes comprehensively, in terms of their evolutionary function and developmental context, and show how ordinary processes yield extraordinary results when we become attached to highly attractive goals that buffer emotional pain. He proposes a new theory of addiction and demonstrates its power and utility by telling the real-life stories of people who, like the author, became addicted--and successfully recovered.
About the Author:
Dr. Marc Lewis is a developmental neuroscientist and professor of human developmental psychology, recently at the University of Toronto, where he taught and conducted research from 1989 to 2010, and currently at Radboud University in the Netherlands. He is the author of over 50 journal publications in neuroscience and developmental psychology. Dr. Lewis is the author of the critically acclaimed Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on Drugs. He co-edited Emotion, Development, and Self-Organization: Dynamic Systems Approaches to Emotional Development (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and co-authored with his wife Isabela Granic Bed Timing (HarperCollins, 2009) which applies developmental theory to help parents get their young children to sleep through the night.