"Public Understandings of Addiction: Where do Neurobiological Explanations Fit?" by Carla Meurk, et al., has been published in the most recent issue of Neuroethics:
Developments in the field of neuroscience, according to its proponents, offer the prospect of an enhanced understanding and treatment of addicted persons. Consequently, its advocates consider that improving public understanding of addiction neuroscience is a desirable aim. Those critical of neuroscientific approaches, however, charge that it is a totalising, reductive perspective–one that ignores other known causes in favour of neurobiological explanations. Sociologist Nikolas Rose has argued that neuroscience, and its associated technologies, are coming to dominate cultural models to the extent that 'we' increasingly understand ourselves as 'neurochemical selves'. Drawing on 55 qualitative interviews conducted with members of the Australian public residing in the Greater Brisbane area, we challenge both the 'expectational discourses' of neuroscientists and the criticisms of its detractors. Members of the public accepted multiple perspectives on the causes of addiction, including some elements of neurobiological explanations. Their discussions of addiction drew upon a broad range of philosophical, sociological, anthropological, psychological and neurobiological vocabularies, suggesting that they synthesised newer technical understandings, such as that offered by neuroscience, with older ones. Holding conceptual models that acknowledge the complexity of addiction aetiology into which new information is incorporated suggests that the impact of neuroscientific discourse in directing the public's beliefs about addiction is likely to be more limited than proponents or opponents of neuroscience expect.