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Psychosomatic subjects and the agencies of addiction
  1. Darin Weinberg
  1. Correspondence to Dr Darin Weinberg, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1TN, UK; dtw23{at}


Addiction science and public policy have for some time been articulated in conformity with a broader antinomy in Western thought between biological reductionism and liberal voluntarism. Hence, mainstream debates have concerned whether and how addiction might be understood as a disease in the biomedically orthodox sense of anatomical or physiological pathology or whether and how addiction might be understood as a voluntary choice of some kind. The fact that those who staff these debates have appeared either unable or unwilling to consider alternatives to this antinomy has resulted in a rather unhappy and intransigent set of intellectual anomalies both on the biomedical and the social scientific sides of this divide. Perhaps more importantly, it has also resulted in a striking isolation of scientific debates themselves from the vicissitudes of therapeutically caring for those putatively suffering from addictions both within and outside clinical settings. After briefly demonstrating the conformity of debates in addiction science with the broader antinomy between biological reductionism and liberal voluntarism and the anomalies that thereby result, this article considers the scientific and therapeutic benefits of a psychosomatic framework for the understanding of both self-governing subjects and the experience of a loss of self-control to agencies of addiction.

  • biocultures
  • drug and alcohol misuse
  • medical humanities
  • medical ethics/bioethics
  • sociology

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.