Message in a Bottle: Stories of Men and Addiction

Overview

Drawing on his research in personality, Singer provides an innovative set of recommendations about treatment strategies and appropriate psychotherapy for those suffering from severe addictions. Their stories make clear the limitations of a disease model of addiction that fails to address the men's fundamental loss of identity and membership in sober society. Singer's heart-wrenching Message in a Bottle teaches us lessons about the addict's world, but the insights that emerge are...
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Overview

Drawing on his research in personality, Singer provides an innovative set of recommendations about treatment strategies and appropriate psychotherapy for those suffering from severe addictions. Their stories make clear the limitations of a disease model of addiction that fails to address the men's fundamental loss of identity and membership in sober society. Singer's heart-wrenching Message in a Bottle teaches us lessons about the addict's world, but the insights that emerge are a message for us all.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A staff psychologist for the Southeastern Council on Drug Dependence and Alcoholism who has been researching the riddle of chronic addiction since the late 1980s, Singer here focuses on the chronic alcoholic and addict who have been repeatedly exposed to treatment and rehabilitation alternatives (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous) yet choose to return to a life of substance abuse. He argues that chronically addicted patients all share an existential disconnection with society that the "disease concept" of substance abuse fails to address. Singer effectively introduces this theory and then uses the patients' own stories to illustrate. While the result is an interesting addition to the literature, it is written for counseling professionals and makes wide use of psychological terms. Recommended for academic or special libraries supporting psychology and counseling programs.A. Arro Smith, San Marcos P.L., Tex.
Kirkus Reviews
A deeply humane but also thoroughly depressing inquiry into the puzzle of what prevents perpetually addicted men from choosing recovery and sobriety.

As a staff psychologist for the Southeastern Connecticut Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Singer helped counselors to cope with addicts' psychological predispositions. To deepen his own understanding and to develop better treatment strategies on behalf of the council, he also chose to conduct two- to three-hour interviews with 31 residents of Lebanon Pines, a long-term facility for chronic addicts. Among those from that interview pool who are featured here are a gay black man; a one-time millionaire who went from rags to riches to rags again; a former major-league baseball player; and a veteran of the Vietnam War. Singer, who lets the men tell their bleak stories mostly in their own words, presents each interview within the framework of a larger contextual discussion considering how the individual story confirms Singer's theories of addiction and identity formation. Finding the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program—and the very concept of addiction as a disease—too narrow and prescriptive to account for the full complexity of addiction, Singer instead views chronic addicts as severely impaired in their ability to form an identity and find meaning in their lives. Their consequent despair can lead to such defensive behaviors as surrender, denial, and self-destruction. For these alienated men ever to recover, he concludes, they must first regain a sense of connectedness to the sober world and confidence about their place in it. To do so, he urges, they require our trust and faithful assistance.

While Singer would prefer that his insights reach and touch a broad reading public, his professional terminology (e.g., "embeddedness," "generativity") will make this slow going for anyone not trained as a counselor or a therapist.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684827209
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1997
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.43 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
1 Battling Sobriety: The Lives of Men Suffering Chronic Addiction 3
2 Identity, Meaning, and Despair 24
3 The Jewel of Prison: A Gay Addict's Forbidden Intimacy 49
4 The Boys of Skipper's Deck: Drinking Circles in Chronic Addiction 66
5 When the Devil Grabs Your Ankle: Poverty's Line of Despair 93
6 Lust and Greed: Addiction and the Empty Self 128
7 Who was Inside Mickey Mantle?: Addiction and the Heroes of Sport 157
8 War on Memory: A Vietnam Veteran's Struggle with the Continuity of Identity 187
9 The Torture: Abuse, Addiction, and the Search for Authentic Identity 213
10 Invisible Men: The Absence of Identity 247
Conclusion: Recovering Identity and Meaning 277
Update 304
Appendix 306
Notes 308
Index 329
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