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Read the interview with Hanna Pickard conducted during her visit to the Rotman Institute.


The mainstream view of addiction is that it is a neurobiological disease of compulsion. Yet the evidence is overwhelming that addicts retain choice and a degree of control over drug consumption. This talk explores the power of the neurobiological myth and the social and moral function it serves, offering an alternative explanation of why addicts continue to use despite negative consequences. To understand addiction, we need not just neurobiology. We need to get real about the value of drugs, the importance of psycho-socio-economic context, and the role of narrative self-identity.


Hanna Pickard is a Reader in Philosophy at the University of Birmingham. She specializes in the philosophy of mind and psychiatry and clinical ethics, exploring philosophical questions that arise out of clinical practice and related science, law and policy. Her central current research project involves articulating the concepts of responsibility and blame that are used within clinical contexts and their relevance to philosophy and criminal justice. She also works on the nature of addiction.

As well as being a philosopher, she works in a therapeutic community for patients with personality disorder and complex needs, and she develops and delivers training for mental services and other organisations.

Read more about Hanna Pickard.


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