Lessons from Akrasia in Substance Misuse: a Clinicophilosophical Discussion

BJ Psych Advances 22 (4):234-241 (2016)
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This article explores the philosophical concept of akrasia, also known as weakness of will, and demonstrates its relevance to clinical practice. In particular, it challenges an implicit notion of control over one’s actions that might impede recovery from substance misuse. Reflecting on three fictional case vignettes, we show how philosophical work on akrasia helps avoid this potentially harmful notion of control by supporting a holistic engagement with people for whom substance misuse is a problem. We argue that such engagement enhances their prospects of recovery by focusing on agency over time, as opposed to individual lapses.
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