cover image Wild Hunger: The Primal Roots of Modern Addiction

Wild Hunger: The Primal Roots of Modern Addiction

Bruce Wilshire. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., $26.95 (324pp) ISBN 978-0-8476-8967-5

In this thoughtful, earnest examination of the roots of the addictive behaviors plaguing contemporary societies, Wilshire (Role Playing and Identity) makes an impassioned plea for rediscovering our primal need for ecstatic involvement with the world and other human beings. His conviction that addiction stems from ecstasy deprivation and an inability to access the regenerative sources inherent in nature is compelling, and many readers will identify with the feelings of emptiness and loneliness he blames on our dualistic culture, which, he says, fosters fragmented identities and prevents a holistic approach to life. Where primitive cultures had long-established ways of interpreting and integrating their experiences (myth, ritual, symbols), today's workaholic, alcoholic, media-bombarded humans, Wilshire maintains, have degraded substitutes and no rites of passage to help them. And, by violating themselves with addictive substances and beliefs (including the belief in all-powerful science), they further erode their own powers of renewal. In addition to putting a spotlight on addicts' denial of their basic needs, Wilshire attempts to reveal our limited understanding of the rituals we do partake in (for example, the use of drugs in shamanistic practices and the communal aspect of smoking). Although his scholarly tone and repetitive text may be off-putting to some readers, Wilshire's salient subject matter will speak to a wide audience, as will his location of salvation in the form of creative work and meaningful relationships. (Aug.)