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Wild Hunger


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Prologue: Hunger for Ecstatic Connectedness Part 2 I NATURE'S REGENERATIVE CYCLES Chapter 3 1 Ecstasy Deprivation and Addictive "Remedies" Chapter 4 2 Rediscovering Space, Time, Body, Self Chapter 5 3 Circular Power Returning into Itself Chapter 6 4 The Intimate Otherness of Body-Self's World: Addiction as Frightened Response Part 7 II ADDICTION: CIRCULAR POWER SHORT-CIRCUITED Chapter 8 5 The More Than Merely Human: Hunger to Belong Chapter 9 6 Medical Materialism and the Fragmented Grasp of Addiction Chapter 10 7 Possession, Addiction, Fragmentation: Is a Healing Community Possible? Chapter 11 8 Smoking As Ritual, Smoking As Addiction Chapter 12 9 Body, Nose, Viscera, Earth Chapter 13 10 Art and Truth Chapter 14 III HARMONY WITH NATURE Chapter 15 11 Mother Nature: Circular Power Returning into Itself Chapter 16 12 Technology As Ecstasy: How to Deal with It? Chapter 17 Conclusion: The Awesome World Chapter 18 Sources Chapter 19 Acknowledgments Chapter 20 Index Chapter 21 About the Author

About the Author

Bruce W. Wilshire is professor of philosophy at Rutgers University. He is the author of numerous books, including Role Playing and Identity.


In this thoughtful, earnest examination of the roots of the addictive behaviors plaguing contemporary societies, Wilshire (Role Playing and Identity) makes an impassioned plea for rediscovering our primal need for ecstatic involvement with the world and other human beings. His conviction that addiction stems from ecstasy deprivation and an inability to access the regenerative sources inherent in nature is compelling, and many readers will identify with the feelings of emptiness and loneliness he blames on our dualistic culture, which, he says, fosters fragmented identities and prevents a holistic approach to life. Where primitive cultures had long-established ways of interpreting and integrating their experiences (myth, ritual, symbols), today's workaholic, alcoholic, media-bombarded humans, Wilshire maintains, have degraded substitutes and no rites of passage to help them. And, by violating themselves with addictive substances and beliefs (including the belief in all-powerful science), they further erode their own powers of renewal. In addition to putting a spotlight on addicts' denial of their basic needs, Wilshire attempts to reveal our limited understanding of the rituals we do partake in (for example, the use of drugs in shamanistic practices and the communal aspect of smoking). Although his scholarly tone and repetitive text may be off-putting to some readers, Wilshire's salient subject matter will speak to a wide audience, as will his location of salvation in the form of creative work and meaningful relationships. (Aug.)

Wilshire (philosophy, Rutgers Univ.) argues that addictive behaviors from smoking to overeating to alcoholism result from modern humanity's loss of ecstatic connection with nature and that society can only overcome these difficulties by cultivating nature, religion, and art. This book is not a systematic argument for this position but rather a compendium of autobiographical meditations (some of which do not seem to have any relationship to the rest of the book), literary quotations, and general musings. It does not offer individual treatment suggestions. Recommended only for larger academic libraries serving programs in addiction counseling or environmentalism.Ă„Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA

This book is absolutely on the cutting edge-even ahead of its time. It brings us an entirely new way of understanding addiction, one of the major curses of industrial society in the late twentieth century. After Wild Hunger, it will be very difficult to think of addiction as a purely medical-neurological problem. -- David Ehrenfeld, Rutgers University
Footnotes provide interesting information and lead the reader to the other source. -- D.L. Loers, Willamette University * CHOICE, January 1999, Vol. 36 N0.5 *
Literate and spiritually refreshing. -- Barbara Fulton * The Journal Of Addiction and Mental Health *
The book is an interesting indicator of current trends in fin-de-siecle America. -- Robin Room, National Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research, Oslo, Norway * Addiction *
An impassioned plea for rediscovering our primal need for ecstatic involvement in the world. . . will speak to a wide audience. * Publishers Weekly *
Wilshire gives insight into the nature of the pseudo-ecstasy of addiction...and how a new awakening can come about. -- Thomas Berry, Author of The Dream of the Earth
Carries the analysis of addiction to new heights and depths. We are immersed in the ultimate question of what we once called 'salvation.' -- John Cobb, Jr., author of For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future.
Quite unlike any other work I know on addiction, culture, or spirit, this text becomes a living site of recognition and regeneration, an eco-textual therapeutic you immediately begin to practice and share. -- Catherine Keller, Drew University
Startling! Writing with passion and honesty, Wilshire shows that in addiction we participate in degenerative vicious circles that substitute for the regenerative cycles of nature. * Parabola *
[Wilshire]'s approac is intuitive and imaginative, mixing medical and scientific research with the insights of Thoreau, James, Dewey, Muir, ad St. Paul, and he is most persuasive when describing the alienating disaffections of dualism, patriarchy, and a scientism whhich places inordinate faith in technology. -- Patrick T. McCormick, Gonzaga University, Spokane * Theological Studies *
A worthwhile contribution to the study of addiction, which rarely receives such sustained, serious reflection by professional philosophers. . . . Wilshire makes a significant contribution not only to the study of addiction but also to the remedying of the ever-widening cultural-societal situation in which modern addictions proliferate. -- Francis F. Seeburger, University of Denver * Journal of the American Academy of Religion *
Wild Hunger is an incredibly rich book. . . . This is a book that is sure to interest philosophers, especially American philosophers and phenomenologists, but also medical doctors, anthropologists, feminists, psychologists, addiction counselors, addicts, relatives of addicts, and, more generally, anyone who is concerned with the ominous signs that our present way of inhabiting the world is interfering with our opportunity to realize our most primal needs. -- Michael Sullivan, Emory University * Journal of Speculative Philosophy *

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