A Pathology of the Will: Developing an Interdisciplinary Understanding of Addiction




Overcash, Mary Elizabeth

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Addiction has historically been understood as a moral failing, but over the past few centuries it has been medicalized and is now viewed as a chronic brain disease. This thesis draws from neurobiology, psychology, philosophy, and theology in order to develop a multi-faceted model of addiction which incorporates insights from each of these disciplines. Neurobiological research supports the disease model of addiction and explains the neural mechanisms underlying addiction. Alternative models from prominent psychologists demonstrate the ways in which the disease model of addiction is insufficient, and they reject the idea that medicalization necessarily leads to destigmatization of addicted persons. The philosophy of Aristotle and the theology of Augustine provide a framework for answering questions of will, freedom, and choice which arise in discussions surrounding addiction. Finally, Alcoholics Anonymous represents an attempt to combine scientific and spiritual perspectives in order to help addicted persons on their path to recovery.



Addiction., Substance use disorder., Disease model of addiction., Choice model of addiction.