To date, I’ve introduced Dr Caroline Atkinson (Australia), Professor Judy Atkinson (Australia), Professor Larry Davidson (USA), Professor Pat Dudgeon (Australia), Professor Phil Hanlon (Scotland), Dr. Zohl dé Ishtar (Australia), Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona (USA), Wynford Ellis Owen (Wales) and Phil Valentine (USA) in my blogs. Let’s continue:
He also argues that the nature of today’s society – with its focus on consumerism, greed and globalisation - is helping create increasingly large numbers of people with addictive behaviours.
I hold Bruce in the highest regard, as do many other people I respect highly.
“Global society is drowning in addiction to drug use and a thousand other habits. This is because people around the world, rich and poor alike, are being torn from the close ties to family, culture, and traditional spirituality that constituted the normal fabric of life in pre-modern times. This kind of global society subjects people to unrelenting pressures towards individualism and competition, dislocating them from social life.
People adapt to this dislocation by concocting the best substitutes that they can for a sustaining social, cultural and spiritual wholeness, and addiction provides this substitute for more and more of us.” Bruce Alexander
Bruce Alexander was born in New York City and educated in the United States, receiving his PhD. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin. He taught at Miami University and the Primate Center of the University of Oregon Medical School before moving to Canada in protest over the Vietnam War.
He has explored many corners of the addiction field since joining the Psychology Department at Simon Fraser University in Canada in 1970.
He has counseled injecting heroin and cocaine addicts in Vancouver, advocated for methadone and stimulant maintenance treatment, conducted psychopharmacological research (including the “Rat Park” experiments), written on Canadian drug law and drug policy, documented the behavioural addictions of university students, conducted field research on cocaine and crack use for the World Health Organization, studied native issues at Kwadacha and other reserves, and served on the Boards of The Portland Hotel Society and the Vancouver Community Arts Council in Vancouver.
He has published two books on addiction issues, Peaceful Measures: Canada’s Way Out of the War on Drugs (University of Toronto Press, 1990) and The Globalization of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit (Oxford University Press, 2008). The Globalization of Addiction received a “High Commendation” from the British Medical Association in 2009.
Since becoming Professor Emeritus in 2005, he has conducted neighbourhood addiction seminars in Vancouver with A Community Aware, a local organization in East Vancouver.
He received SFU’s Sterling Prize for Controversy in 2007. His newest book, co-authored with Curt Shelton, is A History of Psychology in Western Civilization (Cambridge University Press, 2014).