Addicts, Mythmakers and Philosophers: Alan Brody explains Plato’s/Socrates’ understanding of habitually bad behavior.

June 27, 2012

Thad held up his right hand and asked “See this?” He showed me gnarled and maimed fingers. Thad told me that while he was flying his plane into Turkey, the Turkish air force forced him to land, having gotten wind that he was running drugs. They jailed him, and in an attempt to extract a confession, his jailers broke his fingers. He didn’t confess.

Thad bribed his way out of jail. Eventually he came to the drug treatment center where I was working, to get help with his drinking problem. (Thad and other patient names are pseudonyms.) After discussing addiction as involving compulsive behavior, we concluded that Thad was suffering from alcoholism. Knowing he would be better off not drinking, Thad committed himself to abstinence. He told me that he didn’t need to go to Alcoholics Anonymous for support, explaining that if he could resist caving in from torture he could certainly resist whatever discomfort he would experience from not drinking. Thad thought that being able to follow through with his resolve was simply a matter of having the ability to resist succumbing to how bad it would feel to not drink.

Excerpt of a text written by Alan Brody at Philosophy Now. Continue HERE


  1. I am struggling to understand addiction. My husband is an alcoholic, and try as I might, I have found it almost impossible to accept that he does not have control over his actions – that he isn’t making a choice. He himself claims he has no choice – that his behaviour is defined and determined by his disease. I don’t think I can accept that, but your article clearly lays out how it is possible for an alcoholic (or other addict) to relapse despite the consequences (ability to self-regulate compromised). I’m not quite clear on the role of luck in all this, though. Perhaps you can clarify further? Thanks!

  2. Hi, this is not my article but perhaps you can write to Philosophy Now.

  3. Hi, this is not my article but perhaps you can write to Philosophy Now….or to Alan Brody.

  4. Thanks! Will do.

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