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Addiction and Self-ControlPerspectives from Philosophy, Psychology, and Neuroscience$
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Neil Levy

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199862580

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199862580.001.0001

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Addiction in Context

Addiction in Context

Philosophical Lessons from a Personality Disorder Clinic

(p.165) 9 Addiction in Context
Addiction and Self-Control

Hanna Pickard

Steve Pearce

Oxford University Press

Popular and neurobiological accounts of addiction tend to treat it as a form of compulsion. This contrasts with personality disorder, where most problematic behaviours are treated as voluntary. But high levels of co-morbidity, overlapping diagnostic traits, and the effectiveness of a range of comparable clinical interventions for addiction and personality disorder suggest that this difference in treatment is unjustified. Drawing on this range of clinical interventions, we argue that addiction is not a form of compulsion. Rather, the misuse of drugs and alcohol is like many of the problematic behaviours associated with personality disorder: it is typically a way of coping with psychological distress. We suggest five folk psychological factors can explain addiction: (i) strength of desire and habit; (ii) willpower; (iii) motivation; (iv) functional role; and (v) decision and resolve. We conclude by describing how clinical interventions bolster patient agency and briefly consider the relevance of our account to criminal law.

Keywords:   Addiction, Agency, Choice, Compulsion, Control, Personality disorder, Recovery, treatment

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