Addiction as Embodied Powerlessness


This paper tries to show that the naturalistic view of addiction is mired in contradictions that stem from reducing the addict to a weak-willed subject who loses control over his or her body. From a phenomenological perspective, addiction reveals itself to be a habit which eventually becomes harmful, but has its primary sources in the embodied needs of a worldly subject. The aim of this paper is to uncover the dimensions of the lived addiction that are neglected in the contemporary naturalistic discourse: the lived-body (Leib) and the worldly context of the addict. Firstly, we try to do justice to the variety of addictions by underlying that their new and surprising forms are determined by the intersubjective tissue wherein the subject operates. Secondly, the loss of control in addiction, how the subject deals with the tendency to satisfy a need, is experienced as powerlessness, as expressed in the accounts of ecstasy addicts regarding altered states of mind. The last section of this paper will argue that this sense of powerlessness cannot be equated with a weakness of the will because a strong, forceful will engenders the same vertigo of being prey to strange powers. The embodied aspect of addiction and the spontaneous, bodily need it saturates will clarify further this claim.

Keywords: addiction, embodiment, powerlessness, weakness of the will, need

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