Theodore Dalrymple

Pressing the Self-Destruct Button

The Fix: How Addiction Is Invading Our Lives and Taking over Your World


HarperCollins 352pp £20 order from our bookshop

Few subjects generate more heat and less light, more special pleading and less honest reflection, than addiction. Just as no one feels called upon to explain his good deeds by reference to his childhood, but only his bad ones, so no one ever describes his good habits as an addiction over which he has no control. The asymmetry is telling; as Edmund in King Lear puts it (and he knew a thing or two about bad behaviour), ‘an admirable evasion/Of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish/Disposition to the charge of a star!’

This book by the Telegraph columnist Damian Thompson is about our seeming loss of control over our own behaviour, and our increasing tendency to indulge in extreme habits in the search for pleasure or at least sensation. It falls rather between

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