A history of addiction—a phenomenon that remains baffling and deeply misunderstood despite having touched countless lives—by an addiction psychiatrist striving to understand his own family and himself.
One of those hybrid history/memoirs that illuminates an important subject through personal experience. Fisher digs deep into the history of addiction ... Doggedly researched, layered with empathy, The Urge pulls back multiple curtains at once in examining an ailment that will likely never go away ... Fisher devotes several pages to the subject of recovery (his own included). His treatment of Alcoholics Anonymous is concise, evenhanded, and even novel in whom it brings into the picture ... The Urge contains a wealth of such research and insight, rendered with a gimlet eye and a physician’s care. Addicts who make it to the other side often feel they have survived to fulfill a higher purpose. The Urge qualifies as just such an accomplishment, an inspired dive into a condition that, in one way or another, touches us all.
Fisher takes the reader on a vivid tour over several thousand years of multiple cycles of science, medicine and literature, woven together by the thread of the author’s own alcohol and amphetamine addiction and treatment. It is made even more emphatic and moving because he is also a psychiatrist who treats such patients ... none of these insights will be a surprise to experts in this field – they are established facts. But this book is not a polemic, and one of its pleasures is the succession of historical nuggets it serves up, many of which were unknown to me ... thorough and revealing. It is largely US-centric, but, given the overwhelming influence that country has had in driving global drug policies, the narrative is still internationally relevant. Fisher’s personal saga, together with case studies of his patients, lend it an additional human depth. Pulling it all together is this final reflection, a mature view of the topic from someone with immense experience of it.
Impressive ... A nuanced, personal perspective on a health crisis that remains stigmatized and misunderstood ... Fisher weaves together history, psychology, neuroscience, sociology, philosophy and medicine to construct a holistic, humane portrait of a condition that has baffled experts for centuries ... The Urge is several excellent books in one: a complete and sweeping history of addiction, a compassionate doctor’s approach to treating people with addictions, and a blistering critique of outdated, draconian government policies around drug use and addiction.