Archive for the ‘Addiction’ Category

Pleasure Unwoven

17 Dec

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Pleasure Unwoven –- Kevin McCauley. Lecture. A student of addiction, Mr. McCauley presents his case for the Disease model of addiction by tracking its structure. 70 minutes Color 2009.
Kevin McCauley makes it easy and attractive for us to register his analyses by presenting them as he moves through the spectacular landscape of wild Utah and by unexpected visual examples.

He offers us the Choice model first, a model with the moral weight attached to it which says that because addicts can “choose” to not take their drug-of-choice (as the saying goes), they are morally reprehensible for choosing it. Put a literal gun to the head of the addict, and the addict will decline the drug. Yes, of course he will. Point is that there is no literal gun to the head of an addict, so his example does not fully illustrate the argument, and it becomes a sitting duck when the time comes to refute it. No, not a sitting duck. A decoy duck.

But he then to prove the Disease model of addiction he tracks the brain system which creates the infrastructure of addiction. This is his bias, and why not? The brain patterns and the hormonal influences which direct and confirm those patterns he clearly and effectively illustrates for us, and they are important, for anyone who is an addict or who is concerned with the phenomenon of addiction, to follow and to know. And, indeed, they do prove that addiction is a disease.

That it is a disease helps to legitimize its treatment and take addiction out of the realm of criminal or moral conduct. After all, no one chooses addiction as a career choice, but that is what it becomes for the addict. McCauley also makes a useful distinction between behavioral addiction such as gambling and sex and addiction to substances, such as to drugs and alcohol.

He also limns in the peril of cross/addiction, such as to food with sex, or marijuana with cocaine, our taking up one when the other is sober, and then see-sawing back. His illustration of the number of these addictions and their substances is astonishing. Relating damage to the middle-brain and outer-brain and their symptoms he proves his “disease” denomination (although I feel the term “disease,” is not as helpful as it would be to say “condition,” like diabetes, one which requires a daily remedy). All this is good and useful.

What he does leave out from his consideration is the cause of the repetitive nature of addiction. Yes, the brain pattern gets established, but what part of the brain makes it compulsive –– returning over and over again, despite our wanting to stop?

The answer lies in the phenomenon that we survive by compulsion: the heart beats compulsively, the breath breathes compulsively, the digestion digests compulsively. Compulsivity makes us live. Behavior-addiction and drugs enter into that system of holy compulsivity and pollute it to a point where we can barely live. However, while compulsivity is not addressed by McCauley’s excellent clarifications, many important matters are, and the film of him giving them to us is absolutely worthwhile.

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Posted in Addiction

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