Life on the Rocks: Finding Meaning in Addiction and Recovery
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Addiction and recovery are, at their core, about the meaning of life. Life on the Rocks is the first book to address addiction and recovery from a Western philosophical perspective, offering a powerful set of tools sharpened over millennia. It introduces some of the core concepts and vexing questions of philosophy to help addicts and those affected by their addiction examine and perhaps transform the meaning they make of their lives.
Without assuming any familiarity with philosophy, Dr. O’Connor illuminates issues all addicts and their loved ones face: self-identity, moral responsibility, self-knowledge and self-deception, free will and determinism, fatalism, the nature of God, and their relations to others. Life on the Rocks is an indispensable guide to the deeply philosophical concerns at the heart of every addict’s struggle.
Peg O’Connor, PhD, is professor of philosophy and gender, women, and sexuality studies at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. She is the author of the popular Psychology Today blog “Philosophy Stirred, Not Shaken” and contributor to the Pro Talk series at Rehabs.com.
“commandeered.” Other times it “goes rogue.” These expressions are accompanied by the conclusion that there are “addicted brains.” Also the word “hijacked” is especially evocative; people often have a visceral reaction to it, which is precisely why this term is becoming more commonly used in connection with addiction. It is important to be aware of the effects of such language on our understanding. When most people think of a hijacking, they picture a person, sometimes wearing a mask and always
philosophically inclined and are searching for a or the meaning of life. We just tend to look in the wrong places for a long time. I know I did. Our lives have provided many opportunities to confront some of the most basic questions about life, which are also some of the most vexing philosophical questions. Addicts live answers to many of these questions. Life on the Rocks brings these questions and ways of living into sharper focus, without assuming any familiarity with philosophy. Addicts
ourselves and our experiences in the hope that they will be helpful to other people. They also serve as reminders to ourselves. In telling our stories and hearing different verses of the same song in others’ stories, we may gradually see that we, too, are addicted. Incorporating that fact into part of our identity is a momentous occasion. Many people who later identify as addicts remember two life-altering events in a great detail: The first is when they first used, and the second is when they
hypothetical imperatives, the force of a should is contingent upon the desire, or the goals that reflect our desires; lose the desire and the power of the ought disappears. If I decide that my life is “good enough” and I don’t need to challenge myself anymore, then there’s no reason why I should continue with taekwondo or take up other new and challenging tasks. Categorical imperatives, on the other hand, are moral demands that hold for all people universally, come what may. They allow no
total puzzle to me, but something in his work and attitude toward philosophy resonated with me. I was bitten by the philosophical bug. Wittgenstein wrote that working in philosophy is similar to working in architecture. It is more of a “working on oneself” in which a person has his own interpretation, way of seeing things, and expectations.4 The reference to architecture may sound odd, but Wittgenstein believed good architecture had to embody certain virtues or traits that were also important