Thu, Oct 27 at 7:30 p.m. | 90 minutes
"The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is human connection."
This quote, taken from Johann Hari's "Chasing the Dream" will fuel our discussion on addiction.
We are a society riddled with addictive behaviors. From food to the internet to our smart phones and the old standbys like drugs, sex and alcohol, it would seem that no one is immune.
Addiction is a word that’s thrown around a lot these days but do we really know what it is?
The addiction treatment industry is worth 35 billion a year in this country. The vast majority of treatment is based on 12 step programs like AA which are rooted in a deeply Protestant belief in our inherent weakness and powerlessness. The example of the Rat Park experiment shows us how our only “weakness” is our deeply social nature and our addictions are fostered by an increasingly alienating society not something within ourselves.
Classified as a biological disease since the sixties addiction is actually our (arguably healthy in terms of self-preservation) reaction to a socially isolating society and culture and not an inherent biological weaknesses or character flaw.
In this class we will explore what it means to see addiction as a social failing rather than an individual one. We will consider how our current model of addiction has been failing us for over a century and how we can rethink it to help ourselves and each other.
Feel free to watch the Rat Park experiment video which we will be screening in class.
Michael D. Haltenberger has been teaching Comparative Religion at Hunter College for over a decade. His primary interest is the relationship between religion and science and how both affect the way we experience and behave in the world.