Rat Park

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pages: 513 words: 141,963

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari

Airbnb, centre right, failed state, glass ceiling, global pandemic, illegal immigration, mass incarceration, McJob, moral panic, Naomi Klein, placebo effect, profit motive, RAND corporation, Rat Park, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, Steven Pinker, traveling salesman, War on Poverty

v=7kS72J5Nlm8&list=PL6301BC630AE6F23E&index=106&feature=plpp_video, viewed November 1, 2012. 10 This discussion of the experiment is informed heavily by the two original studies of Rat Park by Alexander and colleagues: “The Effect of Housing and Gender on Morphine Self-Administration in Rats,” Psychopharmacology 58, 175–79, and “Effect of Early and Later Colony Housing on Oral Ingestion of Morphine by Rats,” Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behaviour, vol. 15, 571–76. 11 Slater, Opening Skinner’s Box, 165. 12 See “The View from Rat Park” by Bruce K. Alexander, http://globalizationofaddiction.ca/articles-speeches/177-addiction-the-view-from-rat-park.html, accessed November 1, 2012. 13 Slater, Opening Skinner’s Box, 168. 14 Bruce K. Alexander, Globalizing Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit, 195. Although in other interviews and in his writing Bruce has talked about the idea of rats being addicted as a shorthand for their heavily using drugs, he stressed to me that we perhaps need to be more careful with these terms: “What would that look like in a rat?

DeGrandpre, Cult of Pharmacology, 117. 22 Maté, Hungry Ghosts, 146. 23 Baum, Smoke and Mirrors, 62. Miller, Case for Legalizing Drugs, 54–55. 24 See Bruce K. Alexander, “The Rise and Fall of the Official View of Addiction,” http://globalizationofaddiction.ca/articles-speeches/240-rise-and-fall-of-the-official-view-of-addictionnew.html, accessed March 12, 2013. 25 See Jessica Warner, Craze: Gin and Debauchery in an Age of Reason. 26 See Nick Reding, Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town. 27 Bruce K. Alexander, “The View From Rat Park,” http://globalizationofaddiction.ca/articles-speeches/177-addiction-the-view-from-rat-park.html, accessed March 12, 2013. 28 http://www.cedro-uva.org/lib/cohen.addiction.html, accessed February 5, 2012. See Peter Cohen, “Is the Addiction Doctor the Voodoo Priest of Western Man?”

“I suppose you could say it’s poisoned my entire outlook on life.” Nobody has ever received funding to replicate the Rat Park experiment. As I walked the streets of Vancouver trying to digest all this, I began to think again about the very beginning of this story, and I saw something I had not seen before. There were three questions I had never understood. Why did the drug war begin when it did, in the early twentieth century? Why were people so receptive to Harry Anslinger’s message? And once it was clear that it was having the opposite effect to the one that was intended—that it was increasing addiction and supercharging crime—why was it intensified, rather than abandoned? I think Bruce Alexander’s breakthrough may hold the answer. “Human beings only become addicted when they cannot find anything better to live for and when they desperately need to fill the emptiness that threatens to destroy them,” Bruce explained in a lecture in London31 in 2011.


pages: 288 words: 73,297

The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease by Marc Lewis Phd

delayed gratification, helicopter parent, impulse control, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Rat Park, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Walter Mischel

Dirk Hanson, “Ivan Oransky on the Disease Model at TEDMED 2012,” Addiction Inbox: The Science of Substance Abuse, April 15, 2012, http://addiction-dirkh.blogspot.com.es/2012/04/ivan-oransky-on-disease-model-at-tedmed.html. 18. Gene Heyman, Addiction: A Disorder of Choice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009). 19. Heyman, “Quitting Drugs.” 20. An easily accessible review of these studies is Bruce K. Alexander, “Addiction: The View from Rat Park,” www.brucekalexander.com/articles-speeches/rat-park/148-addiction-the-view-from-rat-park. 21. Carl Hart, High Price: Drugs, Neuroscience, and Discovering Myself (New York: Harper, 2013). 22. Stanton Peele and Ilse Thompson, Recover! Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life with The PERFECT Program (New York: Da Capo Press, 2014). 23. S. Satel and S. O. Lilienfeld, “Addiction and the Brain-Disease Fallacy,” Frontiers in Psychiatry 4 (2013): 141. 24.

., developmental) time frame of recovery for each of four addictive drugs: pot, alcohol, cocaine, and tobacco.19 It’s hard to square that kind of schedule with the notion of a disease that requires treatment. According to some experts, the best evidence against the disease model comes from the study of heroin-addicted veterans of the Vietnam War, about 75 percent of whom kicked the habit once they returned home. A number of us view this heartening statistic as the human counterpart to what Bruce Alexander demonstrated in his classic “Rat Park” studies.20 Alexander and colleagues offered rats a choice between morphine solution and water. Rats raised in isolated steel cages chose the morphine. But once placed in a large wooden enclosure with other rats and allowed to socialize, they switched to plain water, even when they were currently addicted. In other words, they “quit” voluntarily. The argument that addictive behaviour is actually a choice got another boost recently from Carl Hart’s work at Columbia University.

Desire roars with immediacy, craving fulfillment, but its natural partners are judgement and direction, planning and perspective, capacities programmed into the dorsolateral PFC throughout childhood and adolescence. Once that partnership has come apart, it needs to be put back together. Chandler’s research has another implication for addiction, and I note it here as a suggestion for further thought. Several scholars or experts on addiction have proposed that confining social conditions and alienation from one’s culture are major ingredients in the rise of addiction. Bruce Alexander, who conducted the Rat Park studies (reviewed in Chapter One), has outlined a broad social theory of addiction in his 2008 book, The Globalization of Addiction, where he investigates societal dislocation and its negative impacts.3 Carl Hart (also introduced in Chapter One) showed how members of minority groups living in the inner city chose to take drugs because other choices seemed unavailable or meaningless.


pages: 297 words: 83,651

The Twittering Machine by Richard Seymour

4chan, anti-communist, augmented reality, Bernie Sanders, Cal Newport, Cass Sunstein, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Google Chrome, Google Earth, hive mind, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invention of writing, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mohammed Bouazizi, moral panic, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, packet switching, patent troll, Philip Mirowski, post scarcity, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Rat Park, rent-seeking, replication crisis, sentiment analysis, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart cities, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, the scientific method, Tim Cook: Apple, undersea cable, upwardly mobile, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

How Experiences of Social Media Non-Use Influence the Likelihood of Reversion’, Social Media and Society, 2015. 22. For those who are curating a self . . . Mike Elgan, ‘Social media addiction is a bigger problem than you think’, CIO, 14 December 2015. 23. . . . the ‘gamification of capitalism’. Byung-Chul Han, Psychopolitics: Neoliberalism and New Technologies of Power, Verso: London and New York, 2017. 24. Even Skinner’s rats were not Skinner’s rats . . . Bruce K Alexander, ‘Addiction: The View from Rat Park’, 2010 www.brucekalexander.com. 25. Marcus Gilroy-Ware’s study of social media . . . Marcus Gilroy-Ware, Filling the Void: Emotion, Capitalism and Social Media, Repeater Books: London, 2017. 26. . . . our online avatar resembles a ‘virtual tooth’ . . . Hans Bellmer, Little Anatomy of the Physical Unconscious, or The Anatomy of the Image, Dominion: Waterbury Centre, VT, 2004, p. 5. 27.

: Cybernetic tourism, the Internet, and transnationality,’ in Nicolas Mirzoeff, The Visual Culture Reader, Routledge: London and New York, 2002. 26. Facebook’s first video advertisement . . . Sadly the ad is no longer available. It is described in detail by Tim Nudd, ‘Ad of the Day: Facebook’, Adweek, 4 October 2012. 27. But as the cyberpunk writer . . . Bruce Sterling, quoted in Virginia Heffernan, Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art, Simon & Schuster: New York, 2017, p. 25. 28. What Bruce Alexander calls . . . Bruce Alexander, The Globalization of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit, Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2011. 29. . . . ‘uniform distancelessness’ . . . Christopher Bollas, Meaning and Melancholia: Life in the Age of Bewilderment, Routledge: London and New York, 2018, p. 49. 30. We prefer the machine . . . Sherry Turkle’s research finds a surprisingly large constituency of people who would prefer a robot as a romantic or sexual partner, because they wouldn’t come with the oddities that human partners bring.

Not in the sense of the old classist stereotype that ‘the poor love their cellphones’: no powerful group would turn down the opportunities that smartphones and social media offer. The powerful simply engage differently with the machine. But any culture that values connectivity so highly must be as impoverished in its social life as a culture obsessed with happiness is bitterly depressed. What Bruce Alexander calls the state of permanent ‘psychosocial dislocation’ in late capitalism, with life overrun by the law of markets and competition, is the context for soaring addiction rates.28 It is as if the addictive relationship stands in for the social relationships that have been upended by the turbulence of capitalism. The nature of this social poverty can be recognized in a situation typical of a social industry addict.


pages: 504 words: 147,660

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction by Gabor Mate, Peter A. Levine

addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, Anton Chekhov, corporate governance, epigenetics, ghettoisation, impulse control, longitudinal study, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, phenotype, placebo effect, Rat Park, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), source of truth, twin studies, Yogi Berra

It increases opiate craving and use, enhances the reward efficacy of drugs and provokes relapse to drug-seeking and drug-taking.31 “Exposure to stress is the most powerful and reliable experimental manipulation used to induce reinstatement of alcohol or drug use,” one team of researchers reports.32 “Stressful experiences,” another research group points out, “increase the vulnerability of the individual to either develop drug self-administration or relapse.”33 Stress also diminishes the activity of dopamine receptors in the emotional circuits of the forebrain, particularly in the nucleus accumbens, where the craving for drugs increases as dopamine function decreases.34 The research literature has identified three factors that universally lead to stress for human beings: uncertainty, lack of information and loss of control.35 To these we may add conflict that the organism is unable to handle and isolation from emotionally supportive relationships. Animal studies have demonstrated that isolation leads to changes in brain receptors and increased propensity for drug use in infant animals, and in adults reduces the activity of dopamine-dependent nerve cells.36,37 Unlike rats reared in isolation, rats housed together in stable social groupings resisted cocaine self-administration—in the same way that Bruce Alexander’s tenants in Rat Park were impervious to the charms of heroin.38 Human children do not have to be reared in physical isolation to suffer deprivation: emotional isolation will have the same effect, as does stress on the parent. As we will later see, stress on pregnant mothers has a negative impact on dopamine activity in the brain of the unborn infant, an impact that can last well past birth. Some people may think that addicts invent or exaggerate their sad stories to earn sympathy or to excuse their habits.

Alexander has conducted elegant experiments to show that even lab rats, given reasonably normal living situations, will resist the addictive appeal of drugs: My colleagues and I built the most natural environment for rats that we could contrive in the laboratory. “Rat Park,” as it came to be called, was airy, spacious, with about 200 times the square footage of a standard laboratory cage. It was also scenic (with a peaceful British Columbia forest painted on the plywood walls), comfortable (with empty tins, wood scraps, and other desiderata strewn about on the floor), and sociable (with 16–20 rats of both sexes in residence at once). …We built a short tunnel opening into Rat Park that was just large enough to accommodate one rat at a time. At the far end of the tunnel, the rats could release a fluid from either of two drop dispensers. One dispenser contained a morphine solution and the other an inert solution. It turned out that for the Rat Park animals, morphine held little attraction, even when it was dissolved in a sickeningly sweet liquid usually irresistible to rodents and even after these rats were forced to consume morphine for weeks, to the point that they would develop distressing physical withdrawal symptoms if they didn’t use it.

What has been shown, however, is that conditions in the laboratory powerfully influence which animals will succumb to addiction. Among monkeys, for example, subordinate males who are stressed and relatively isolated are the ones more likely to self-administer cocaine. As I will later explain, being dominant leads to brain changes that give stronger monkeys some protection from an addictive response to cocaine.10 Bruce Alexander, a psychologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, points out the obvious: laboratory animals in particular can be induced into addiction because they live under unnatural circumstances of captivity and stress. Along with other astute researchers, Dr. Alexander has argued that drug self-administration by these creatures may be how the animals “cope with the stress of social and sensory isolation.”


pages: 332 words: 101,772

Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines His Former Life on Drugs by Marc Lewis Phd

dark matter, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, Golden Gate Park, impulse control, Malacca Straits, Rat Park, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea

Evidence for the neural markers of ego depletion was reported by Inzlicht and Gutsell in the journal Psychological Science, vol. 18, 2007, and by Hirsh and Inzlicht in the journal Psychophysiology, vol. 47, 2010. p. 247. A unified framework for understanding addictive choices, emphasizing cognitive deficits and errors, was published by Redish, Jensen, and Johnson in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 31, 2008. p. 253. Bruce Alexander, a Canadian psychologist, published the results of his “Rat Park” experiments in Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior, vol. 15, 1981. His findings were so challenging to conventional views of addiction that his research was rejected by higher-profile journals. Chapter 14 p. 275. I published a speculative article on the neural mechanisms of internal dialogue in the journal Theory & Psychology, vol. 12, 2002. p. 281.

Rats will often consume morphine and other opiates, but until a famous experiment in the late seventies, most psychologists never thought to ask why. While some rats were housed in the usual sort of cage, made of cold steel wire, and isolated, one rat to a cage, others were housed in a “rat park”: a large open-topped wooden box full of wood shavings and other diversions and, most importantly, together in a large group. All rats were offered water or morphine to drink. The choice was theirs. But the rats living in Rat Park drank a lot less morphine than their counterparts living in isolation. Presumably because they had fun and they had company in their daily lives. The authors saw addiction as a product of an impoverished environment, not a characteristic of a particular class of drugs. They felt that companionship made life pleasant enough that external opiates weren’t needed.

Table of Contents Title Page Dedication Introduction • PART ONE • - THE TABOR CHRONICLES Chapter 1 - CHANGING STATE Chapter 2 - GIVING UP CONTROL Chapter 3 - INTO THE FIRE Chapter 4 - DOPAMINE AND DESIRE: A ROMANTIC INTERLUDE • PART TWO • - LIFE AND DEATH IN CALIFORNIA Chapter 5 - PULLING OUT THE STOPS Chapter 6 - PSYCHEDELICS, SEX, AND VIOLENCE Chapter 7 - A PSYCHEDELIC FINALE: COPS AND ANGELS Chapter 8 - HEROIN, THE HEAP, AND THE SLEEP OF THE DEAD Chapter 9 - GETTING DOWN • PART THREE • - GOING PLACES Chapter 10 - TRAVEL BROADENS THE MIND Chapter 11 - CONSCIOUSNESS LOST AND FOUND Chapter 12 - THE OPIUM FIELDS • PART FOUR • - IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH Chapter 13 - NIGHT LIFE IN RAT PARK Chapter 14 - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT Chapter 15 - HEALING EPILOGUE Acknowledgments ENDNOTES INDEX ABOUT THE AUTHOR Copyright Page For Isabel, who never lost confidence in this book or its author INTRODUCTION WE ARE PRONE TO A CYCLE of craving what we don’t have, finding it, using it up or losing it, then craving it all the more. This cycle is at the root of all addictions—addictions to drugs, sex, love, cigarettes, soap operas, wealth, and wisdom itself.


pages: 428 words: 126,013

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari

basic income, Berlin Wall, call centre, correlation does not imply causation, Donald Trump, gig economy, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, John Snow's cholera map, Joi Ito, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Occupy movement, open borders, placebo effect, precariat, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, Rat Park, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), the scientific method, The Spirit Level, twin studies, universal basic income, urban planning, zero-sum game

In Toronto, Heather Mallick gave me very useful pointers. In Norway, Sturla Haugsjerd and Oda Julie helped me enormously. In São Paulo, Rebeca Lerer helped me make sense of everything. And in Vietnam, my wonderful fixer, Dang Hoang Linh, prevented me from vomiting myself to death, for which I’ll always be grateful. The wonderful, humane psychologist Bruce Alexander spurred me to think differently about mental health in the first place through his life-changing “Rat Park” experiment, which I discussed in my previous book, Chasing the Scream, Jake and Joe Wilkinson helped to shape this book and gave me a lot of joy while they did it. My parents, Violet McRae and Eduard Hari, my siblings, Elisa and Steven, my sister-in-law, Nicola, my nephews, Josh, Aaron, and Ben, and my niece, Erin, all did the same. If you want to be taught sympathetic joy meditation by the person who taught me—either in person in Illinois, or online—go to rachelshubert.com; she also does work in prisons and kindergartens.

depression and anxiety have three kinds of causes Another key reason leading me to these broader insights was my research into the social causes of addiction, for my book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs (New York: Bloomsbury, 2015). I don’t want to repeat that material here, but if you’re interested in how I came to these insights, check out chapters twelve and thirteen of that book in particular, and the work of one of my heroes, Bruce Alexander, especially The Globalization of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008). “Things have changed in psychiatry,” For more background on this see Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, “Rethinking funding priorities in mental health research,” British Journal of Psychiatry 208 (2016): 507–509. it is “much more politically challenging” This thesis is discussed further, and brilliantly, in Mark Rapley, Joanna Moncrieff, and Jacqui Dillon, eds., De-Medicalizing Misery: Psychiatry, Psychology and the Human Condition (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).