August 07, 2008

My Favorite Contrarian

Theodore Dalrymple is a treasure.

The British author, a longtime prison doctor and hospital psychiatrist, has wowed me for years with his essays in City Journal, National Review, and elsewhere. I loved his masterful 2001 book Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass, and I just finished In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas.

Now in the current issue of WORLD magazine, Marvin Olasky interviews Dalrymple about his book Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy. "What is the standard, orthodox view of heroin addiction?" Olasky asks.
I think it is this. The man who becomes the addict stumbles across heroin somehow or other, takes a few doses, is "hooked," has to continue to avoid the dreadful symptoms consequent upon stopping. He finds himself unable to pay for the heroin he needs so he commits crimes, and then, if he is lucky, finds medical assistance for his condition which consists largely of a substitute drug. Without assistance, he is doomed; with it he is saved. All this is nonsense.