Top critical review
"CHOICE", "RESPONSIBILITY" OR CULTURE
on December 2, 2000
"Addiction (which at one time meant only devotion or dedication) has come to mean ``any activity which individuals engage in, deliberately and consciously, and are PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO STOP THEMSELVES FROM PURSUING [my caps for emphasis]." Rejecting such a definition out of hand, Schaler maintains that "people are responsible for their deliberate and conscious behavior."
In this context, without getting into a long discussion, it is obvious that addictive behavior is culturally based and "choice" tenets are culturally set and only certain "conscious behaviors" will be considered to be the responsibility of individuals in society, and I might add, only certain individuals in society.
We live in a culture today that endorses "personal responsibility," so we will have these positions that will argue for setting cultural tenets for it.
So this means that we will deliberately and consciously admonish, punish, even execute individuals who fall prey to cultural manipulations and pressures resulting from cultural constructs. Punishing individuals who do not meet the ideals may be an addiction our American society has and should take responsibility for.
We can form tenets for or against certain behaviors. We know that a man consciously and deliberately beats his wife but do we know when it becomes addictive behavior? Is there cultural tenets for that, and against that? We know that men consciously and deliberately molest children but at what point do we know when it becomes addictive behavior? We know that the mind can consciously and deliberately pursue not eating but can we say that the addiction is not a result of cultural cues and metaphors? Does addiction occur without culture and does culture occur without addiction? Isn't culture the result of addiction? Isn't cultural "conditioning" addictive? Doesn't conditioning produce conscious and deliberate acts that are physically pursued so that one can't stop from doing them? And, isn't the purpose of conditioning to insure that people are unable to stop themselves (or find it impossible to stop) from pursuing acts that are contradictive to the conditioning? Don't we try to condition (i.e., addict) people to certain conditioning like the Ten Commandments? And, aren't those cultural tenets?
So there are good addictions and bad ones -- but culturally based.
Why does the addiction occur? Is it culture to do so or is a response to cultural pressures to do so? Are addicts the result of culture or do they create it? When does society take its responsibility for its contribution to addictive behaviors? These are questions neither asked nor answered. To say that individuals" (certain individuals under certain circumstances) are "responsible" for their "conscious and deliberate acts" is culture. The belief can change tomorrow.
Schaler might consider writing about addiction to "poverty" and explain that these are "deliberate" and "conscious choices" that "people are responsible for." Addiction is NEVER a "choice" (a cultural tenet requiring conditioning), but it can be reconditioned out of practice.
Please note that some alcoholics and other drug users, including tobacco addicts, are educated professionals with family and position and even wealth. So "poverty" would have to be redefined (for our reality) in such a way to accommodate these individuals when they pursue it "deliberately" and "consciously" especially when we act to hold them "responsible" for it.