Addiction as temporal disruption: interoception, self, meaning

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 19 (2):305-319 (2020)
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Addiction remains a challenging disorder, both to treat and to conceptualise. While the temporal dimension of addiction has been noted before, here the aim is to ground this understanding in a coherent phenomenological-neuroscience framework. Addiction is partly understood as drawing the subject into a predominantly “now” orientated existence, with the future closed or experienced as extremely distant. Another feature of this temporal structuring is that past experiences, which are crucial in advancing intentionally forward, are experienced in addiction as a void. This has implications for the generation of meaning and forming of self, amongst others. While there are areas of the brain that regulate temporal processing, there is no single location. Recent addiction research has implicated the insula and in turn this area is implicated in temporal and interoceptive awareness. Similarly these areas of disruption may affect self processes. Disruption of interoception and thus of self, may help explain why addiction is complex and involves multiple aspects of subjectivity.



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