Laura Miller

Addiction is not a disease: A neuroscientist argues that it's time to change our minds on the roots of substance abuse

The mystery of addiction — what it is, what causes it and how to end it — threads through most of our lives. Experts estimate that one in 10 Americans is dependent on alcohol and other drugs, and if we concede that behaviors like gambling, overeating and playing video games can be addictive in similar ways, it’s likely that everyone has a relative or friend who’s hooked on some form of fun to a destructive degree. But what exactly is wrong with them? For several decades now, it’s been a commonplace to say that addicts have a disease. However, the very same scientists who once seemed to back up that claim have begun tearing it down.

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Addiction Is Not A Disease, and It's Time to Rethink the Roots of Substance Abuse

The mystery of addiction — what it is, what causes it and how to end it — threads through most of our lives. Experts estimate that one in 10 Americans is dependent on alcohol and other drugs, and if we concede that behaviors like gambling, overeating and playing video games can be addictive in similar ways, it’s likely that everyone has a relative or friend who’s hooked on some form of fun to a destructive degree. But what exactly is wrong with them? For several decades now, it’s been a commonplace to say that addicts have a disease. However, the very same scientists who once seemed to back up that claim have begun tearing it down.

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United States of Inc.: Corporations As Nation-States in Silicon Valley’s Latest Utopian Management Scheme

During my desultory post-graduation years in San Francisco, I lived in a big duplex with three roommates. We had bands, fledging writing gigs and other financially unpromising passions, until one of us threw over la vie bohème to work at a consulting firm. We teased him mercilessly for using nonsensical catchphrases like “think outside the box” and for getting a job telling other people how better to run their companies when he’d never actually run a company himself. In the years since, he started an airline in a foreign country, and everyone else began talking about thinking outside the box, too.

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Neuroscientist: Why It's Dangerously Wrong to Approach Addiction as a Kind of Disease

The mystery of addiction — what it is, what causes it and how to end it — threads through most of our lives. Experts estimate that one in 10 Americans is dependent on alcohol and other drugs, and if we concede that behaviors like gambling, overeating and playing video games can be addictive in similar ways, it’s likely that everyone has a relative or friend who’s hooked on some form of fun to a destructive degree. But what exactly is wrong with them? For several decades now, it’s been a commonplace to say that addicts have a disease. However, the very same scientists who once seemed to back up that claim have begun tearing it down.

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Why 'Game of Thrones' Wouldn't Have Been Possible Without J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

For nearly 20 years in the middle of the 20th century, a small group of men met twice a week in the British university town of Oxford. They drank, they smoked, they told the occasional off-color joke and they sang a lot of very old songs. They also read aloud to each other from works they’d written, stories and papers that they believed to be radically out-of-step with their time. Everything about the greater world around them conspired to persuade them that what they valued and enjoyed was either doomed or already obsolete. One of them happily described himself as a “dinosaur.” Yet they would go on to shape global culture in ways we still feel today.

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Heroin is a White-People Problem: Bad Medicine, Economic Rot and the Enterprising Mexican Town that Turned the Heartland on to Black Tar

If you happened to live near a certain clinic in Portsmouth, Ohio, in the early 2000s, you might find yourself regularly answering your doorbell to people asking to buy your urine. The town, once awarded All-American City status by the National Civic League, stands across the Ohio River from the site of America’s first “pill mill” — a medical office, usually posing as a “pain clinic,” where people can easily obtain prescriptions for pain-killers — opened in 1979.

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When Buddhism Goes Bad: How a Yoga and Meditation Retreat Turned Cult-Like and Deadly

When the public learned of 38-year-old Ian Thorson’s death in a cave in the Arizona desert three years ago, the details behind the tragedy were both jarring and ominously familiar. Thorson had belonged to a religious splinter group, headed by a charismatic leader, that had holed up in a remote, isolated enclave. There were rumors of sexual shenanigans, weapons and highly secretive practices. In that respect, it was an old story.

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Down and Dirty Fairy Tales: How This Rediscovered Stash of Darker-Than-Grimm Stories Destroys our Prince Charming Myths

In 2012, readers around the world were intrigued to learn that a researcher in northern Bavaria had discovered hundreds of never-published fairy- and folktales collected by the 19th-century folklorist Franz Xaver von Schönwerth. Working just a few decades after the Brothers Grimm, Schönwerth considered scholars his natural audience, and as a result the tales he recorded are bawdier, racier and significantly more scatological than the collection the Grimms published under the title “Children’s and Household Tales.” Everyone knows that the Grimms’ fairy tales are much darker than the cleaned-up Disney versions, but with Schönwerth’s, the action gets even more down-to-earth.

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No, America Has Never Been a Christian Country -- Why Does the Myth Persist?

As Peter Manseau, author of “One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History,”would have it, nothing has done more damage to the ideal of American religious pluralism than the “stubborn persistence of words spoken more than a century before the United States was a nation at all.” Those words are “a city upon a hill,” preached by the Puritan John Winthrop to his fellow colonists as they prepared to leave their ship at Massachusetts Bay in 1630. Most strenuously invoked by Ronald Reagan, the city on the hill, according to Manseau, has for the past 50 years “dominated presidential rhetoric about the nation’s self-understanding, causing an image borrowed from the Gospels to become a tenet of faith in America’s civil religion.”

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Nuns Gone Bad: A Lurid Tale of a Lesbian Nun Sex Gang

In the summer of 1859, a desperate nun in the Roman convent of Sant’Ambrogio sent a letter to her kinsman, a bishop in the Vatican. She pleaded with him to rescue her, claiming that she had been the target of several poisonings and was in mortal danger. When her cousin the bishop answered her call and arrived at Sant’Ambrogio, he promised to rescue her and soon delivered on that promise. From his estate in Tivoli, the relieved but traumatized Katharina von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen began to draft a denunciation of her one-time sisters back in Rome. It was an accusation more lurid than any popular anti-clerical satire, full of sexual transgressions, heretical practices and homicidal schemes. Furthermore, the case against the convent of Sant’Ambrogio had tendrils that climbed up to the highest reaches of the Church and entwined around the great Catholic controversies of the day.

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