Dark Genies, Dark Horizons: The Riddle of Addiction

Summary and Analysis…

In this article Dr. Satel makes the point that addiction is made up of what she calls “multiple intersecting causes,” biological, psychological, social, and cultural. She points out that an individual may be influenced of one or more of these things and in different ways. Therefore, she argues, why focus on a single cause for a complicated problem like addiction, or prefer one cause above all the others?

This approach seems to support the multiple pathways for reentry approach to addiction treatment and again demonstrates the lack of agreement in the professional community regarding the nature of addiction.

Excerpted from Culture and Politics: Liberties

This is an article by Dr. Sally Satel (bio), practicing psychiatrist and lecturer at the Yale University School of Medicine, published in Culture and Politics Liberties journal. She references the story of the late Anthony Bourdain (celebrity chef and TV host) and his lifetime struggle with addiction. The title for her article was inspired by this story from Bourdain as she recounts in the article:

By the time of his (Bourdain’s) visit to Provincetown in 2014, a wave of painkillers had already washed over parts of Massachusetts and a new tide of heroin was rolling in. Bourdain wanted to see it for himself and traveled northwest to Greenfield, a gutted mill town that was a hub of opioid addiction. In a barebones meeting room, he joined a weekly recovery support group.

Everyone sat in a circle sharing war stories, and when Bourdain’s turn came he searched for words to describe his attraction to heroin. “It’s like something was missing in me,” he said, “whether it was a self-image situation, whether it was a character flaw. There was some dark genie inside me that I very much hesitate to call a disease that led me to dope.”