Addiction and Self-Determination: A Phenomenological Approach
Schlimme, Jann E.
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2010 February; 31(1): 49-62
In this article, I focus on possibly impaired self-determination in addiction. After some methodological reflections, I introduce a phenomenological description of the experience of being self-determined. I argue that being self-determined implies effectivity of agency regarding three different behavioural domains. Such self-referential agency shall be called 'self-effectivity' in this article. In a second step, I will use this phenomenological description to understand the impairments of self-determination in addiction. While addiction does not necessarily imply a basic lack of control over one's life, this can well be the case during certain periods of time or in special situations. Addiction is herein described as an embodied custom-highly effective with respect to changing one's lived experience-which is learned and developed while becoming addicted. Such a repeatedly performed custom, called a 'psychotropic technique', implies deep changes in one's personal identity and alters an agent's 'self-effectivity'. In the closing section, I discuss the possible implications of a phenomenological approach to personal responsibility.
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