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Introduction 

Introduction
Chapter:
Introduction
Author(s):

Bruce K. Alexander

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199588718.003.0001
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date: 18 October 2019

Why are so many people dangerously addicted in the globalising world of the 21st century? Why does the range of addictions extend so far beyond drugs and alcohol to gambling, shopping, romantic love, video games, religious zealotry, television viewing, internet surfing, an emaciated body shape … and on and on? Why has scientific medicine, a dazzling success in so many other domains, not brought addiction under control? These mysteries are best investigated by viewing addiction historically. A historical perspective affords an unhurried look at what addiction is, why it has always existed, why it appears to be spinning out of control just now, and what modern society can hope to do about it. Moreover, it provides a fresh view of certain aspects of the madness of today’s world that might seem unrelated to addiction at first....

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