Synopses & Reviews
The psychiatric establishment in the Western world has unanimously branded addiction a brain disease. And the idea that an addict has an incurable illness, as opposed to a contemptible moral weakness, has served an historically important role in changing how addiction is understood, researched, and treated throughout the world.
But as renowned developmental neuroscientist and recovered addict Marc Lewis argues in this illuminating, compelling, likely controversial book, addiction is not in fact a disease. Addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, sex, or cigarettes, is rather a developmental learning process resulting from the normal functioning of the human brain.
Through vividly rendered, compassionate stories of five addicts, interpreted in the light of state-of-the-art neuroscientific knowledge, Lewis shows how the compulsion to use arises in a brain that is highly efficient in pursuing singular goals. He reveals addiction as an unfortunate twist of fate for a brain doing what its designed to doseek pleasure and reliefin a world thats not cooperating. He shows that recovery from addiction is indeed possible, and that it is nothing like remission from a disease.
The Biology of Desire is vital and enlightening reading for anyone who has wrestled with addiction themselves, in their families, or as a medical or treatment professional. It illuminates a path to more effective treatment for addicts, and outlines the essential requirements for individual recovery. Combining clearly rendered scientific explanation with insight, compassion, and even humor, Lewis boldly challenges us all to re-examine our approach to addiction, and whether the metaphors we've used to explain it have now become obstacles to healing.
Through the vivid, true stories of five people who journeyed into and out of addiction, a renowned neuroscientist explains why the disease model” of addiction is wrong and illuminates the path to recovery.
The psychiatric establishment and rehab industry in the Western world have branded addiction a brain disease, based on evidence that brains change with drug use. But in The Biology of Desire, cognitive neuroscientist and former addict Marc Lewis makes a convincing case that addiction is not a disease, and shows why the disease model has become an obstacle to healing.
Lewis reveals addiction as an unintended consequence of the brain doing what its supposed to doseek pleasure and reliefin a world thats not cooperating. Brains are designed to restructure themselves with normal learning and development, but this process is accelerated in addiction when highly attractive rewards are pursued repeatedly. Lewis shows why treatment based on the disease model so often fails, and how treatment can be retooled to achieve lasting recovery, given the realities of brain plasticity. Combining intimate human stories with clearly rendered scientific explanation, The Biology of Desire is enlightening and optimistic reading for anyone who has wrestled with addiction either personally or professionally.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Lewis is a developmental neuroscientist and professor of human development and applied psychology at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. He has more than fifty journal publications in neuroscience and developmental psychology; served as coeditor of Emotion, Development, and Self-Organization: Dynamic Systems Approaches to Emotional Development, and is the author of the critically acclaimed book Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines His Former Life on Drugs.