cover image The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease

The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease

Marc Lewis. PublicAffairs, $26.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61039-437-6

Neuroscientist Lewis (Memoirs of an Addicted Brain) presents a strong argument against the disease model of addiction, which is currently predominant in medicine and popular culture alike, and bolsters it with informative and engaging narratives of addicts’ lives. According to Lewis, addiction is neither a choice nor an inherent malady; rather, it is innate to human behavioral biology, a natural adaptation that begins in the brain. After a section introducing Lewis’s theory, the bulk of the book shows the concept in action through detailed, intimate case studies. Even when presenting more technical information, Lewis shows a keen ability to put a human face on the most groundbreaking research into addiction. Likewise, he manages to make complex findings and theories both comprehensible and interesting. The focus is primarily on drug dependency, to the extent that readers will wish Lewis had given more explanation of how behavioral addictions (those not tied to substances) fit into his theory. And while therapy is consistently shown as instrumentally restorative, Lewis devotes few pages to describing how the cycle of addiction is broken. Nonetheless, this book, written with hopeful sincerity, will intrigue both those who accept its thesis and those who do not. Agent: Michael Levine, Westwood Creative Artists. (July)