1st Edition

Transcending Addiction An Existential Pathway to Recovery

By Ryan Kemp Copyright 2018

    Addiction is often thought about in terms of cause, be that brain chemistry, attachment patterns or cognitive schemas. But this does not allow an understanding of what addiction "is". It does not illuminate how addiction is lived. A phenomenology of addiction reveals that addiction is characterised by an intolerance of pain, a pursuit of pleasure, immediacy, technocratic solutions, alienation, ambiguity and is drenched in deception. These are its individual clinical manifestations, but this is also the way life, in this century, is lived. The addict is thus the ultimate 21st century subject, consuming without end, intolerant of emotion and unable to grasp their own limitations. Rather than embraced, these subjects act as a denied symptom, haunting late capitalism and exposing the vampire-like nature of our culture. As such, these subjects need to be treated not just as individuals who have "gone too far", but as victims of the political agenda shaping our lives. Thus the heart of the book is a description of addiction deepened by existential-phenomenological theory. This description is then used to understand the historical emergence of addiction, its socio-political manifestation and also the crucial issue of how to clinically treat the addict-subject.



    Part I Setting the agenda

    1. An introduction to addiction

    2. What is existential phenomenology?

    3. Existing theories of addiction

    Part II Dimensions of the addictive lifeworld

    4. Temporal dimension of addiction

    5. The lived body of addiction

    6. Being-with-others in addiction

    7. The worlding of addiction

    8. The symbolic aspects of addiction

    Part III Towards a recovery from addiction

    9. Treating the addicted subject




    Ryan Kemp, PhD, is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist. He trained in South Africa and London and has over twenty years of experience in a variety of mental health settings. He is currently Director of Therapies in Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust and visiting lecturer at Regents University London. Previously he was the chair of the Faculty of Addiction in the British Psychological Society and has a wide range of clinical experience, including with drugs, alcohol, gambling, and technology-based addictions (computer games, internet).