Reactive Attitudes, Relationships, and Addiction

Authored by: Jeanette Kennett , Doug McConnell , Anke Snoek

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Science of Addiction

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138909281
eBook ISBN: 9781315689197
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315689197-36

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Abstract

What happens to close relationships of love and friendship in addiction? How does the impact of addiction on those relationships affect the addicted person’s view of themselves and of their capacities for change and recovery? In this chapter we focus on the structure of close personal relations and diagnose how these relationships are disrupted by addiction. We draw upon Peter Strawson’s landmark paper ‘Freedom and Resentment’ (2008, first published 1962) to argue that loved ones of those with addiction veer between, (1) reactive attitudes of blame and resentment generated by disappointed expectations of goodwill and reciprocity, and (2) the detached objective stance from which the addicted person is seen as less blameworthy but also as less fit for ordinary interpersonal relationships. We examine how these responses, in turn, shape the addicted person’s view of themselves, their character and their capacities, and provide a negative narrative trajectory that impedes recovery. We close with a consideration of how these effects might be mitigated by adopting less demanding variations of the participant stance.

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