What’s Wrong With Addiction?

What's Wrong With Addiction?

by Helen Keane

Published by: NYU Press

228 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN: 9780814747643
  • Published: April 2002



"Keane's work is thoughtful and thought provoking and incorporates elements of medical history and philosophy."—Psychiatric Services

"A theoretically engaging exploration of the arbitrariness of the field of addiction studies."
—Robert Granfield, co-author of Coming Clean

We assume that there is something wrong with addiction. But how exactly is it bad to be an addict? What's Wrong with Addiction? explores the ways in which our views of addiction categorize certain ways of being as unnatural, diseased, and self-destructive, often working to reinforce existing social hierarchies. Under the rubric of addiction, pleasure and desire are demonized, while the addict is viewed as damaged and in need of physical and moral rectificaiton.

Keane examines the ambiguities in medical science's quest to construct addiction in chemical and biological terms, revealing the strains in the oppositions between disease and health, and addiction and normality. She demonstrates how these strains have become more insistent as the net of addiction has spread wider, moving beyond chemical substances to other problems of consumption and conduct such as compulsive eating and sex addiction. The book also critically examines the ideals of health, freedom, and happiness found in popular self-help literature, suggesting that it is the practices of self-surveillance and self-interrogation promoted in recovery guides which actually produce the inner self as an object of concern.