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Essay Example on Addiction and Freewill

4 pages
884 words
Harvey Mudd College
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In The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Angie Bachmann gets involved in gambling as a way of avoiding the boredom which she had been subjected to by the virtue of her husbands constant commitments and the absence of her children. Additionally, she had been ignored by her relatives and taunted for being the only untalented family member. The combination of the two aspects drives Angie to seek a platform where she can prove her talent. The riverboat casino gives her the much-needed opportunity to show her ability apart from providing her with a means of avoiding the boredom at home. From the onset, she thought that she was in control of her activities at the casino. However, with the passage of time, the increase in experience gives her the courage to stake higher sums of money. The progression of events ultimately jeopardize her life as she ends up making huge loses which drives her to bankruptcy. In that respect, Angies suffering can be attributed to her living conditions which compel her to take part in gambling as such she should not be held accountable for her debts.

Lauren Slaters Rat park: the radical addiction experiment provides a lens through which Angies experiences and habits can be analyzed. According to Slater, human beings lack the free will to carry out the activities that they may want which results in them getting addicted. During the analysis of the addiction, the author states Drugs, perhaps, are like chemical electrodes. They excite that dormant median forebrain bundle, causing it to crave more andmore, the same way scratching a bug bite only ignites the itch. (Laurent 9). Similarly in the case of Angie participation in gambling could be likened to the chemical electrodes which were attached to the rats brains. The sensation created by the electrodes as indicated in the excerpt resulted in the rats desiring for more and more electrocution. Angies conditions elicit a similar reaction whereby she could not control her urges to indulge in gambling activities until she ran into problems.

Alexanders Vietnam experiment is another justification for Angies addictions. As highlighted in the story, the men who engaged in drug use in Vietnam got addicted. The challenging conditions in Vietnam apparently forced the men to start using heroin, however, once they got back home, up to 99% of the men abandoned the use of heroin. In this case, it is understandable that the conditions in Vietnam forced the men to seek an avenue which could allow them to vent their frustrations. Bachmans parents deteriorating health conditions heighten her frustration levels. The frustration from the parents health conditions combined with other family factors. As highlighted by Charles her husband seemed more interested in his work than her anxieties, and resentful of her kids who didnt realize she needed them now, after all the sacrifices she had made while they were growing up (Charles 102). The combination of the highlighted conditions made her seek a way to vent the pressure. As indicated whenever she hit the casino, those tensions would float away Charles (102). These events indicate that Angie was being pushed by the harsh conditions back at home to take part in gambling rather than a self-decision. From the analysis of this phenomenon it clear that Angie was not responsible for her choices and that she had no free will.

Additionally, when viewed from the perspective of Alexanders rats park experiment, it is clear that Angies world was not perfect. The rats park experiment provided ideal conditions for the rats. According to Laurent, Alexanders rat park reflected perfect world conditions for the rats whereby they could get whatever they wanted without subjecting themselves to stress as reflected in the following excerpt: What would happen, he wondered, if he removed the cage or, in other words, altered the cultural constraints? Would the inevitable physiological fact of addiction stay the same in happier surroundings? (Laurent 10). From the excerpt, it is evident that the rat park was characterized by happier conditions for the rats. Consequently, the rats unwillingness to take opium lazed water can be interpreted to mean that the rats environment was perfect and devoid of stress. In other words, the environment was the major contributor to their ability to stop drinking water laced with opium. In Angies world, however, the conditions were unfavorable. As indicated by Charles, Angie her husband seemed more interested in his work than her anxieties (Charles 102), while her children seemed more distant to her than before. These factors provided unfavorable conditions which made Angie get hooked to gambling.

If Angie had been provided with favorable conditions similar to that of Rat Park, she would not have gone to the casino in the first place. As indicated, the fact that she had been disregarded by her husband combined with her parents deteriorating health conditions made her depressed. The casino provided her with the only reprieve out of her challenges. From the above analysis, it is evident that Angie should not be held accountable for the debts accumulated from her gambling experiences.


Works cited

Duhigg, Charles. The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and business. Vol. 34. No. 10. Random House, 2012.

Laurent Slater. Rat Park: the radical addiction experiment. 2005. . Accessed 16 January 2018.


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