Addiction: A Disorder of Choice

"It seems to me,” William S. Burroughs Jr. once wrote, that “if you put something pleasant in front of someone, they’re going to take it.” But not everyone succumbs to the temptation. Why do some fall prey to addiction while others do not?

This important book by a research psychologist who works at Harvard Medical School and its affiliated psychiatric hospital challenges many common beliefs about the nature and treatment of addiction. Gene Heyman argues that addiction is best understood not as a disease, but as a “disorder of choice.” Further, he contends that people who are addicted to certain substances often cease being addicted, most often by their thirties. Both of these positions are quite controversial, but Heyman’s alternative perspective has important implications for understanding and addressing this hugely important problem.

 

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