The Drunken Monkey: Why We Drink and Abuse Alcohol

The Drunken Monkey: Why We Drink and Abuse Alcohol

The Drunken Monkey: Why We Drink and Abuse Alcohol

The Drunken Monkey: Why We Drink and Abuse Alcohol

Synopsis

Alcoholism, as opposed to the safe consumption of alcohol, remains a major public health issue. In this accessible book, Robert Dudley presents an intriguing evolutionary interpretation to explain the persistence of alcohol-related problems. Providing a deep-time, interdisciplinary perspective on today's patterns of alcohol consumption and abuse, Dudley traces the link between the fruit-eating behavior of arboreal primates and the evolution of the sensory skills required to identify ripe and fermented fruits that contain sugar and low levels of alcohol. In addition to introducing this new theory of the relationship of humans to alcohol, the book discusses the supporting research, implications of the hypothesis, and the medical and social impacts of alcoholism.

The Drunken Monkey is designed for interested readers, scholars, and students in comparative and evolutionary biology, biological anthropology, medicine, and public health.

Excerpt

If you walk into any large bookstore and browse in the self-help / recovery section, you will find a number of books about alcoholism. Similarly, a keyword search of books on Amazon will yield in excess of 10,000 items published about the disease. Some are memoirs, others are more clinically oriented, but they will have one major thing in common. All of these books are primarily concerned with the symptoms and management of the disease, rather than with the basic causes of alcoholism. Psychological, sociological, and occasionally physiological underpinnings do receive some attention in these books, but the basic motivation to drink alcohol (either in moderation or to excess) never seems to be explained in detail. Sometimes a spiritual or even a mysterious origin of alcohol attraction is alluded to, rendering any proposed treatment even harder to explain or to interpret from first principles. Most such books would thus seem to be of minimal explanatory or clinical value. However, their very existence and widespread commercial dissemination serve as sad testimony to the hugely detrimental impact of alcoholism, as well as to the desperation of those who suffer from its consequences. Historically, the persistence of alcoholism as a highly damaging medical and sociological phenomenon fully demonstrates our basic lack of understanding as to what might predispose us, as human beings, to suffer from this disease.

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