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Books, Journals, New Media
December 25, 2002

AddictionWhat's Wrong With Addiction?

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 2002;288(24):3170-3171. doi:10.1001/jama.288.24.3170-JBK1225-3-1

Addictions have been considered a proper subject for medical interest because of the pernicious effects they can have on individual health and because of the success, albeit limited, that the medical model has had in preventing and ameliorating these effects. However, for widely varying reasons, some physicians and allied critics reject the notion that addictions should be labeled pathological.

Some of these critics believe that addictions are legitimately the exclusive province of ethicists, theologians, or lawyers. Others are uneasy as the boundaries of addictions spread from unhealthy use of habit-forming drugs to uncommon variants of such typical human activities as eating, sex, and gambling. Still others view medicalization of aberrant behavior in a strictly political context in which manipulation of categories of thinking is used by one segment of a culture to dominate another. The Australian author of What's Wrong With Addiction?, who has a social research background, represents this last approach, arguing that addictions are inappropriately labeled as illnesses by our modern "enterprise culture" to strengthen its hold over people's conduct and desires.

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