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Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease
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Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  37 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
Heavy Drinking informs the general public for the first time how recent research has discredited almost every widely held belief about alcoholism, including the very concept of alcoholism as a single disease with a unique cause. Herbert Fingarette presents constructive approaches to heavy drinking, including new methods of helping heavy drinkers and social policies for pre ...more
Paperback, 195 pages
Published June 21st 1989 by University of California Press (first published January 10th 1988)
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Ann Kuhn
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Difficult to rate because I'm not sure if I rating the writing or the opinions expressed. I started reading this book with an open mind. While the author's arguments are convincing in one way, the overall experience is very academic; I get the feeling that he has never really seen a real life alcoholic struggle and that he is writing his thesis because he needed to pick a topic! I cannot argue fundamentally with any of the arguments he makes, but my personal experience tells me that even if alco ...more
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A helpful book on the relatively recent labeling of alcoholism as a disease and the data that refutes it. This is really a reason for hope because if it's not a disease you are not under its control.
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Heavy Drinking” is an important book; it is a brave book & simply makes sense. In about 140 pages Herbert Fingarette, formerly a professor of philosophy at UC Santa Barbara, dispels the myth that alcoholism is a disease, while taking very seriously the social problem of alcoholic behavior.

Since its debut this book has been vilified by the current Alcoholism-as-Disease paradigm as a sham, harmful to its readers & that it should be banned from all major book stores. It is simply amazing h
May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
My participation in a family member's substance abuse treatment program had begun to make me a bit skeptical about the disease model of addiction. I happened across Fingarette's book and found it crystalized my doubts, and clarified the related problems of physical addiction, psychological habituation, and compulsive consumption in ways that were both realistic and fact-based, while also explaining how the disease model had grown to dominate the treatment field. In brief: you can hardly blame th ...more
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
4 stars not really for the quality of the writing, which was good, but because a book titled "Heavy Drinking: the Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease" by a man named Herbert Fingarette, picked up in a hippy bar's bookswap area that actually makes coherent points is a pretty rare find. Apparently this guy is a somewhat respected scholar, and he doesn't say anything that isn't common sense: i.e., alcoholics aren't helpless victims, The just have a habit that happens to impact more people than overeati ...more
A whole new take on the disease concept of alcoholism.
Very thought provoking- challenges some of the most foundational beliefs about alcoholism. Fingarette points to significant scientific research that backs him up on most of his points.
Peter Owens
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An excellent text. Approachable and yet immaculately researched.
Barry Bridges
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Academic Tome.
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Herbert Fingarette is an American philosopher and emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles under the direction of Donald Piatt.

Fingarette's work deals with issues in philosophy of mind, psychology, ethics, law, and Chinese philosophy.
More about Herbert Fingarette
“In sum, Jellinek's highly influential articles were based on questionnaires completed by 98 male members of A.A. Of the 158 questionnaires returned, Jellinek had eliminated 60, excluding the data from some A.A. members who had pooled and averaged their answers on a single questionnaire because they shared their newsletter. Jellinek also excluded all questionnaires filled out by women because their answers differed greatly from the men's. No wonder Jellinek spoke of the limitations of the data. And no wonder his data conformed so closely to the A.A. model. Even in 1960, Jellinek acknowledged the lack of any demonstrated scientific foundation for his proposals. Of the lack of evidence he remarked, "For the time being this may suffice, but not indefinitely." 16” 0 likes
“The classic disease concept admirably suits the interests of the liquor industry: By acknowledging that a small minority of the drinking population is susceptible to the disease of alcoholism, the industry can implicitly assure consumers that the vast majority of people who drink are not at risk. This compromise is far preferable to both the old temperance commitment to prohibition, which criminalized the entire liquor industry, and to newer approaches that look beyond the small group diagnosable as alcoholics to focus on the much larger group of heavy drinkers who develop serious physical, emotional, and social problems.” 0 likes
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