Substance addiction: cure or care?

Nicola Chinchella*, Inês Hipólito

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Substance addiction has been historically conceived and widely researched as a brain disease. There have been ample criticisms of brain-centred approaches to addiction, and this paper aims to align with one such criticism by applying insights from phenomenology of psychiatry. More precisely, this work will apply Merleau-Ponty's insightful distinction between the biological and lived body. In this light, the disease model emerges as an incomplete account of substance addiction because it captures only its biological aspects. When considering addiction as a brain disorder, it will be shown that research fails to account for the contextual, functional, and emotional aspects inherent to subjective health. It is concluded that, while the disease model is fundamental to our understanding of what happens in the brain, its brain-centred approach is cure-oriented. Instead, we suggest a care-orientated approach, which understands and treats the psychological feel as bodily experience situated in an environment, allowing for a more encompassing therapeutic perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Phenomenology of substance addiction
  • Lived body
  • Cure and care
  • Illness and disease


Dive into the research topics of 'Substance addiction: cure or care?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this