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Fix Hardcover – May 1, 2012
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'This wonderfully honest, perceptive book... makes brilliantly clear that addiction, like war, is Hell. Thompson's courage as a reporter, and moral courage as a man, is on display throughout this book in his pitiless account of his own weakness. But even more impressive than this is his insightful analysis. Having reflected so honestly and unsparingly on his own addiction, he is in a strong position to see how addiction is warping society... Thompson's book is at once blackly funny, intellectually serious and compellingly readable.' FIVE STARS - MICHAEL GOVE, Mail on Sunday 'Thompson's book is a tour de force, written with wit and elan, but more than that, it is a delicate dissection of what it means to be addicted to something; what it is to feel out of control and beholden to something to anaesthetise you from the realities of your life. It's agonisingly honest and personal in parts but without ever seeming mawkish or self-pitying, drawing on his personal experiences of addiction to give texture and insight.' FIVE STARS - MAX PEMBERTON, The Telegraph 'Thompson's key thesis is that addiction should be thought of as behaviour, not disease. I am a practicing clinical psychologist - professor of clinical psychology at the University of Liverpool - and this is a philosophy with which I profoundly agree. Thompson has been able to put into words - to explain - not only why we tend to get addicted to harmful things, but also how we've got our collective thinking about these issues so wrong for so long. It's a book I wish I had been skilful enough to write. ... The Fix is an excellent read. It's bold and confident and, pretty much, right.' PROFESSOR PETER KINDERMAN, Head of the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool
About the Author
Damian Thompson is a recovering alcoholic who continues to wrestle with an addiction to collecting Classical CDs. He's the editor of the Daily Telegraph blogs, a lead columnist in print in the Saturday Telegraph, used to be the director of the Catholic Herald and has been described by the Church Times as a 'blood-crazed ferret'. @HolySmoke
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Top customer reviews
Thompson's definition of addiction covers a continuum from meth/heroin/coke to iPhones to porn to cupcakes and down to Angry Birds. He discusses both substance and "process" addictions (e.g., gambling or computer gaming).
While he benefited from Alcoholic's Anonymous, he emphatically rejects their contention that addiction is a disease.
Much is made of dopamine's role in addiction, vs. endorphin. Thompson distinguishes between dopamine ("wanting") and endorphin ("liking"). Modern society does much to "press our wanting buttons" while we may not find as much liking as we would want. Addiction replaces people in our lives.
Significant attention is given to use & abuse of prescription drugs, whether by legitimate prescriptions, internet "pharmacies," or street sources. ADD and ADHD are discussed.
Rather than speak of an addicted society, he considers our "addictive personalities." Many people choose to identify themselves by their addictions.
Thompson: "Fortunately powerful desire doesn't lobotomize us. In the final analysis, addiction is a disorder of choice, and we're not doomed to carry on making bad choices to the point of helplessness. The challenge is identifying those bad choices."
My take is that Thompson views addiction almost like the Buddhists view excessive attachment.
Easy to read, excellent end notes, no simple solutions.
This book makes a few controversial and thought-provoking points. First, addictions are essentially bad habits, not diseases. Second, these habits are powerful and often self-reinforcing. And third, people can quit their bad habits, but circumstances play a huge part. (After reading the book, I quickly moved my bad habit apps to harder-to-reach folders on my phone. Time will tell.)
This is not a self-help book. It's a thoughtful look at the whole topic of addiction (drugs, alcohol, Internet, porn, video games, gambling, eating) with a focus on what makes something addictive, how the brain reacts, and about how society may do ourselves a disservice by equating addiction with disease.
It's also very readable, well-written, and even funny. I read most of it on a flight from SFO to LHR, and I'm a fairly slow reader. Highly recommended.