Narrative Self-Constitution and Recovery from Addiction

American Philosophical Quarterly 53 (3):307-322 (2016)
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Why do some addicted people chronically fail in their goal to recover, while others succeed? On one established view, recovery depends, in part, on efforts of intentional planning agency. This seems right, however, firsthand accounts of addiction suggest that the agent’s self-narrative also has an influence. This paper presents arguments for the view that self-narratives have independent, self-fulfilling momentum that can support or undermine self-governance. The self-narrative structures of addicted persons can entrench addiction and alienate the agent from practically feasible recovery plans. Strategic re-narration can redirect narrative momentum and therefore support recovery in ways that intentional planning alone cannot.
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