Public understandings of addiction: where do neurobiological explanations fit?

Meurk, Carla, Carter, Adrian, Hall, Wayne and Lucke, Jayne (2014) Public understandings of addiction: where do neurobiological explanations fit?. Neuroethics, 7 1: 51-62. doi:10.1007/s12152-013-9180-1

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Author Meurk, Carla
Carter, Adrian
Hall, Wayne
Lucke, Jayne
Title Public understandings of addiction: where do neurobiological explanations fit?
Journal name Neuroethics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1874-5490
Publication date 2014-04
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s12152-013-9180-1
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 7
Issue 1
Start page 51
End page 62
Total pages 12
Place of publication Dordrecht, Netherlands
Publisher Springer
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Abstract Developments in the field of neuroscience, according to its proponents, offer the prospect of an enhanced understanding and treatment of addicted persons. Consequently, its advocates consider that improving public understanding of addiction neuroscience is a desirable aim. Those critical of neuroscientific approaches, however, charge that it is a totalising, reductive perspective–one that ignores other known causes in favour of neurobiological explanations. Sociologist Nikolas Rose has argued that neuroscience, and its associated technologies, are coming to dominate cultural models to the extent that 'we' increasingly understand ourselves as 'neurochemical selves'. Drawing on 55 qualitative interviews conducted with members of the Australian public residing in the Greater Brisbane area, we challenge both the 'expectational discourses' of neuroscientists and the criticisms of its detractors. Members of the public accepted multiple perspectives on the causes of addiction, including some elements of neurobiological explanations. Their discussions of addiction drew upon a broad range of philosophical, sociological, anthropological, psychological and neurobiological vocabularies, suggesting that they synthesised newer technical understandings, such as that offered by neuroscience, with older ones. Holding conceptual models that acknowledge the complexity of addiction aetiology into which new information is incorporated suggests that the impact of neuroscientific discourse in directing the public's beliefs about addiction is likely to be more limited than proponents or opponents of neuroscience expect.
Keyword Neuroethics
Public understanding of science
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online ahead of print 15 February 2013.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: UQ Centre for Clinical Research Publications
Official 2014 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 8 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 9 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 13 Mar 2013, 15:31:20 EST by Ms Carla Meurk on behalf of UQ Centre for Clinical Research