The psychiatric establishment in the Western world has unanimously branded addiction a brain disease. And the idea that an addict has an incurable illness, as opposed to a contemptible moral weakness, has served an historically important role in changing how addiction is understood, researched, and treated throughout the world. But as renowned developmental neuroscientist and recovered addict Marc Lewis argues in this illuminating, compelling, likely controversial book, addiction is not in fact a disease. Addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, sex, or cigarettes, is rather a developmental learning process resulting from the normal functioning of the human brain. Through vividly rendered, compassionate stories of five addicts, interpreted in the light of state-of-the-art neuroscientific knowledge, Lewis shows how the compulsion to use arises in a brain that is highly efficient in pursuing singular goals. He reveals addiction as an unfortunate twist of fate for a brain doing what it's designed to do - seek pleasure and relief - in a world that's not cooperating. He shows that recovery from addiction is indeed possible,and that it is nothing like remission from a disease, because brain physiology doesn't need to change for addicts to get better. The Biology of Desire is vital and enlightening reading for anyone who has wrestled with addiction themselves, in their families, or as a medical or treatment professional. It illuminates a path to more effective treatment for addicts, and limns the essential requirements for individual recovery. Combining clearly rendered scientific explanation with insight, compassion, and even humor, Lewis boldly challenges us all to re-examine our approach to addiction, and whether the metaphors we've used to explain it have now become obstacles to healing.
'A courageous and much-needed voice in rethinking addiction ...Through his intimate personal and professional knowledge of addiction, Lewis reframes our understanding of its mechanisms and nature in a way that is empowering.';- Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, author of the The Woman Who Changed Her Brain;;'Marc Lewis provides a wonderful mix of biography, psychology, and neuroscience to explain desire and addiction in a new way. It will stimulate thinking about our approaches to addiction and desire. His writing is accessible, personal, and captivating.';- David Roland, author of How I Rescued My Brain;;'This is the real story of 'this is your brain on drugs,' but one that provides a refreshing, convincing alternative to the widespread traditional disease-model view of addiction. Through compelling stories of real people who struggled with various addictions, Lewis lucidly makes the case for a new science-based understanding of what causes and sustains addiction. Most important, it offers far more positivity about ways out of addiction than those offered by traditional treatment, providing hope for those struggling as well as for their loved ones.';- Anne M. Fletcher, MS, RD, author of Sober for Good and Inside Rehab;;'Informed by unparalleled neuroscientific insight and written with his usual flare, Marc Lewis's The Biology of Desire effectively refutes the medical view of addiction as a primary brain disease. A bracing and informative rebuke of the muddle that now characterizes public and professional discourse on this topic.;- Dr. Gabor Mate, MD, author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction;;'Marc Lewis's new book neatly links current thinking about addiction with neuroscience theory and artfully selected biographies. Ex-addicts, we learn, are not 'cured,' rather they have become more connected to others, wiser, and more in touch with their own humanity. This is a hopeful message that has, as Lewis demonstrates, the advantage of also being true.';- Gene Heyman, author of Addiction: Disorder of Choice;;'Whether you are looking for a foundation in the neuroscience of addiction, guidelines for recovery or just hope that recovery is possible, it's all here. The scientific information is presented in the context of day-to-day behavior and the lives of individuals you will come to care about. You'll learn more about neuroscience (and human development and psychology) than you may have thought possible. Informed by this book, you'll see how neuroscience explains addiction as a part of life, rather than a mysterious entity only experts can understand.';- Tom Horvath, President of Practical Recovery and SMART Recovery, and author of Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions
Dr Marc Lewis is a developmental neuroscientist and professor of human development and applied psychology at Radboud University Nijmegen, one of the top five universities in the Netherlands, and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, where he taught and conducted research from 1989 to 2010. The author of over 50 journal publications in neuroscience and developmental psychology, he is at the forefront of knowledge of the emotional brain and the neural foundations of personality development.