Governing desire in the biomolecular era : addiction science and the making of neurochemical subjects
This thesis investigates the development and implications of contemporary understandings of addiction that have emerged over the last half century within biomolecular and neurobiological 'styles of thought.' The analysis, based upon historical and archival research, is organized around the shift from conceptualizations of addiction as an organic or molar disease - that is, a disease that was thought to affect individuals in some general, but unspecified way (for example, by affecting 'the will') - to neuroscience conceptualizations of addiction as a disease of the brain. The thesis examines the interplay of cultural, political, economic, and technological factors that have influenced which particular ways of going about studying, thinking about, and researching addiction have been pursued most actively. In doing so, it brings into question the assumption that changes in styles of thinking about addiction occur as a consequence of the discovery of 'natural' neurochemical truths of the brain, independent of political rationalities, material considerations and realities, and scientific entrepreneurship. It also investigates how neuroscience models are transforming the ways that clinical, legal, and, personal, and social problems associated with drug use and addiction are dealt with. It particularly focuses on the development and use of 'anticraving' medications, which are today being prescribed to treat compulsive desires for a range of drug addictions, including 'behavioural addictions' such as pathological gambling and compulsive shopping. It relates these new forms of 'brain-targeting' treatment and intervention to the emergence of new classifications of mental health and illness, and to new ways of thinking about and acting upon individuals as neurochemical subjects.