Birth of a Brain Disease: Science, the State and Addiction Neuropolitics
History of the human sciences 2010; 23(4): 52-67
This article critically interrogates contemporary forms of addiction medicine that are portrayed by policy-makers as providing a "rational" or politically neutral approach to dealing with drug use and related social problems. In particular, it examines the historical origins of the biological facts that are today understood to provide a foundation for contemporary understandings of addiction as a "disease of the brain." Drawing upon classic and contemporary work on "styles of thought," it documents how, in the period between the mid-1960s and the mid 1970s, such facts emerged in relation to new neurobiological styles of explaining and managing social problems associated with drug abuse, and an alliance between a relatively marginal group of researchers and American policy-makers who were launching the "War on Drugs." Beyond illustrating the political and material conditions necessary for the rise of addiction neuroscience, the article highlights the productivity of neurobiological thought styles, by focusing on the new biological objects, treatments and hopes that have emerged within the field of addiction studies over the last several decades.
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