Cracked has an amusing article satirising the increasing tendency to portray any repetitive behaviour as an ‘addiction’. It discusses the horrifying reality of six things you didn’t know you could get addicted to and helpfully lists the warning signs.
The first on the list is the scourge of book addiction. We know that reading can affect mood, interfere with sleep, cause arguments, lead to financial difficulties and, in some instances, has caused violence and even revolutions.
Book junkies are thought to be driven by a need to repeatedly experience literary pleasure, a desire to escape from the unpleasant realities of everyday life or a profound insecurity about not fully understanding themselves and the world.
Luckily, Cracked has outlined the warning signs for you to look out for:
Technology has obviously made books unnecessary, so the sight of even one book in a friend’s home should be cause for concern. If the person has gone as far as to purchase an entire special shelf to hold all of his books, it’s probably time for an intervention.
I’m still a bit baffled as to why ‘addiction’ seems to be such a popular explanation for perceived negative behaviour in ourselves or others. It has strayed so far from its original concept of a drug affecting brain function that it can now apply to almost anything.
I suspect it’s because the concept has now been so heavily medicalised that it brings with it a concept of loss of personal control or reduction in responsibility without regard for the context or even the validity of what it applies to.
Of course, as soon as something is medicalised, there’s a big disincentive to question the concept because people assume you’re doubting the problem (i.e. the human suffering the behaviour causes) rather than the explanation.
I was struck by how Josef Fritzl, the man at the centre of the appalling ‘daughter in the dungeon’ case, explained his behaviour as an ‘addiction’. Presumably, that will be the well-known underground cellar, false imprisonment and incest addiction that appears in all the diagnostic manuals.
Returning to a somewhat lighter theme, the Cracked article has a few great lines and attempts to poke fun at the whole idea. Apart from water addiction, of course, which is genuinely serious.
I’ve heard some people hide bottles of water in their desk at work so they can have a drink when they get the ‘urge’. Sad.
Link to Cracked on things you didn’t know you could be addicted to.