Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice

Academic journal article Ethics & Medicine

Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice

Article excerpt

Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice Kent Dunnington. InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL, 2011. ISBN 978-0-8308-3901-8; 194 PAGES, PAPER, $30.

It seems that, in the past several years, America has become an addicted society. Though we used to think of this problem only in terms of substance abuse - like drugs, alcohol, or nicotine - now we include addictions to activities such as excessive use of the internet, pornography, shopping, gambling, overeating, and a host of other activities. Moreover, recent advances in radiology have demonstrated common pathways within the pleasure center of the brain that "light up" uniquely in people with addictions to either substances or activities. Even so, Kent Dunnington, author of Addiction and Virtue, makes it abundantly clear that addiction does not represent simply an anatomical/physiological disorder of the brain. Rather, he avoids the polar opposites of disease and choice, suggesting that we consider the concept of habit and ask when a habit becomes an addiction.

As a physician interested in addiction, I looked forward to reading what this author would bring to the discussion, given his expertise in philosophy and his Christian perspective. However, when approaching the work of authorities discuss behavioral problems, I often wonder if they are missing something by dismissing addiction as simply undisciplined. Historically, we have made similar mistakes repeatedly with other disorders. …

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