Guest blogging at Points continues this week with a series of pieces by Helen Keane, who teaches gender studies and sociology at the Australian National University in Canberra. Keane is the author of What’s Wrong with Addiction? (NYUP 2002), and has written widely on the social and cultural aspects of alcohol and illicit drug use, pharmaceutical drugs and addiction. Her current research interests include ADHD and constructions of childhood; intoxication and gender; and theories of medicalization.
Much of my work is focused on the concept of addiction and its mix of medical, ethical and social elements. I don’t see this mix as reducible: it seems to me that this collection of biological markers, clinical evaluations, and ethical and cultural judgements is what addiction is. While I think that untangling the strands that make up the idea of addiction is intellectually and politically important, dis-entanglement does not necessarily clarify the true nature of the disorder. What it does reveal is what is at stake in such classificatory and definitional exercises. In this series of posts I want to look at some different medical definitions of addiction: in pain medicine, in the draft DSM-V, and in addiction neuroscience.