The Fix
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The Fix

by Damian Thompson
     
 

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Addictions to iphones, painkillers, cupcakes, alcohol and sex are taking over our lives.Our most casual daily habits can quickly become obsessions that move beyond our control. Damian Thompson, who has himself struggled with a range of addictions, argues that human desire is in the process of being reshaped. Shunning the concept of addiction as disease, he shows

Overview

Addictions to iphones, painkillers, cupcakes, alcohol and sex are taking over our lives.Our most casual daily habits can quickly become obsessions that move beyond our control. Damian Thompson, who has himself struggled with a range of addictions, argues that human desire is in the process of being reshaped. Shunning the concept of addiction as disease, he shows how manufacturers are producing substances like ipads, muffins and computer games that we learn to like too much and supplement tradition addictions to alcohol, drugs and gambling. He argues that addictive behaviour is becoming a substitute for family and work bonds that are being swept away by globalisation and urbanisation.This battle to control addiction will soon overshadow familiar ideological debates about how to run the economy, and as whole societies set about “fixing” themselves, the architecture of human relations will come under strain as never before.The Fix offers a truly frightening glimpse of the future and is essential reading for fans of Naomi Klein’s ‘No Logo’, Oliver James’s ‘Affluenza’ and Francis Wheen’s ‘How Mumbo-jumbo Conquered the World’.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - James Norton
…[a] fleet-footed, frighteningly up-to-date tome on all manner of compulsive habits…[Thompson] speaks in a voice that's deceptively casual, disclosing his own demons—from alcohol to zopiclone—throughout the book. After reading the first 50 pages, you may feel that his take on addiction is superficial and a bit self-centered. But by the end, after you've been pulled through a whirlwind of anecdotes, interviews and studies, he has built an argument with real force and substance.
Publishers Weekly
Drawing on his own experience as a binge drinker, as well as personal interviews with addicts and data from recent studies, Daily Telegraph editor Thompson (Counterknowledge) aims to show that, contrary to the teachings of popular 12-step programs, addiction is not a disease in any medical sense, but a “disorder of choice.” The author demonstrates that addictions have as much to do with “disordered brain chemistry” as they do with social conditions, as when the sudden lifting of bans in 18th century London allowed anyone to distil spirits, leading to the “first recorded epidemic of drunkenness in history.” Today the drugs of choice range from designer pills to sugar, social media (“by the end of 2011, Facebook was cited in a third of divorce cases in the U.K.”), and the pursuit of increasingly exotic digital pornography. Thompson argues that the purveyors of these luxuries make us greedy beyond “our ability to cope with the psychological and social problems that are created as a result” of their use. Alarmist about the ubiquity of addictive behavior while remaining optimistic about the ability of vigilant individuals to keep it under control, Thompson compellingly presents addiction not as the problem of genetically unlucky individuals, but of Western culture as a whole. Agent: Simon Trewin, WME Entertainment (U.K.). (Apr. 23)
From the Publisher
‘Blackly funny, intellectually serious and compellingly readable.’ FIVE STARS – MICHAEL GOVE, Mail on Sunday‘Fleet-footed, frighteningly up-to-date … an argument with real force and substance’ – Washington Post‘Thompson’s book is a tour de force, written with wit and élan, 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
Kirkus Reviews
Smartly written consideration of how "cupcakes, iPhones, and Vicodin," among other marvels of our time, are stealthily, intentionally creating a world of addictive behavior. Saturday Telegraph lead columnist Thompson (Counterknowledge, 2008) hammers home a twofold thesis: that the "twelve step" model of addiction as disease, endorsed by therapists and others, is inaccurate in addressing the wide spectrum of compulsive desire as seen by brain science and, more disturbingly, that numerous forces are harnessing this misconception for profit by using innovation and marketing to make elements of modern life more subject to dependency, from pornography to smartphone apps. Although he acknowledges his own youthful struggle with alcohol abuse, he wisely balances the memoir aspects with a wider look at research and the views of others; this, and his generally wry voice, gives his discussion of troubling issues a deft rather than a lugubrious tone. Thompson excels at teasing out the addictive patterns forced upon us in ordinary life, beginning with casinos and strip clubs, and he makes shrewd cultural cross-connections: "Digital porn is the equivalent of cheap gin in Georgian England: it provides a reliable, dirty hit that relieves misery and boredom." When he examines such disparate phenomena as the migration patterns of new synthetic drugs, the abuse of attention deficit drugs by students, the revenue-generating tricks present in electronic pastimes like "Farmville" or "World of Warcraft," and the popularity of hard-core porn on the iPads of adolescents, he sees technology as a common culprit, creating "the quickening of desire....Most of us [now] face an intensity of temptation that we can only intermittently resist." The author blends science, personal experience,and witty and bemused commentary into a convincing take on compulsive behaviors that many readers will recognize: "it's as if someone or something has sneakily moved the boundaries of your self-control." A clever look at an insidious consumer landscape, long on sharp observations and worried predictions but short on proposed solutions.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780007436101
Publisher:
HarperCollins UK
Publication date:
04/23/2013
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 7.54(h) x 0.71(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
‘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 élan, 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

Meet 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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