LOVE AND ADDICTION by Stanton & Archie Brodsky Peele


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Peele and Brodsky propound the disconcerting thesis that drug addiction and garden variety love are one process--the chief difference being that hard drugs are lower-class phenomena, socially disapproved of, whereas I-can't-live-without-you-baby love, the kind celebrated on the Top Forty, is middle-class and not only sanctioned but exalted. The authors emphasize that they are speaking more than just metaphorically: the dynamics of addiction are identical whether one is ""hooked"" on heroin, booze, nicotine or a lover: dependency is not biochemical, it starts in the personality of the victim and occurs when the coveted substance/person is used to constrict one's own ego and to facilitate detachment from the environment as a whole. F. Scott Fitzgerald's love affair with Sheilah Graham, used to exclude the larger world and its demands, is cited as the perfect paradigm of love as addiction. Other case histories show the lover succumbing to ""tolerance"" (the need for a larger and larger dose) and ""withdrawal""--the two prime characteristics of habituation. In constructing their theory of dependence and addiction the authors (Peele is a Harvard Ph.D. in social psychology) rely on recent scientific literature which seems, increasingly, to point to addiction as a cultural/psychological manifestation--there are many chronic users who are not addicts. The authors don't argue that all romantic love is destructive and dependency-creating; Erich Fromm's The Art of Love is the model for life-enhancing, positive loving. But the examples of clinging, immature couples are generally less interesting than the presentation of the central thesis, which deserves further investigation.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1975
Publisher: Taplinger