Friday, May 8, 2009

What I'm reading this week: Cracked

Pinksy, D with Gold, T. (2003). Cracked: Putting broken lives together again, a doctor's story.  New York: Regan Books.

I'll be honest, I liked this book until I realized who wrote it.  Not being up on popular culture, I didn't realize that the author Drew Pinsky was the doctor on the shows Celebrity Rehab and Sober House.  I find those shows disgusting, as in they disgust me, not that they have gross content.  So pretend with me for a moment, that I don't strongly dislike the author's professional image and we'll talk about the book.

Pinksy writes about his time spent working as on a doctor on the chemical dependency unit of a hospital.  Unlike the model in my city, the unit seems to function as both detox and addictions treatment, with clients moving directly from hospital to sober living facilities.  The book takes us through average days in Pinksy's life following the lives of patients and their efforts to gain and maintain sobriety.

Dr. Pinksy addresses some of the common causes of addiction although he tends to take a somewhat narrow approach.  He is a doctor, so perhaps it makes sense that he pays a great deal of attention to the medical model and
the theory that addiction is a disease.  The book is clear that the way to maintain sobriety is to detox, start the twelve steps, find a sponsor, and stay in a sober living facility.  The author acknowledges no other paths and does not discuss other models of addiction.  He is clear that all addicts come from extremely dysfunctional families and were abused as children. While I don't have any studies contradicting this on hand, it "irks" me that there is nothing else presented.

Dr. Pinksy shows a great deal of self awareness in his writing, spending time discussing what many would term as "countertransferance" (although he does not use that word) and his reactions to patients.  I appreciated that fact that he acknowledged that he had these reactions and they played a part in treatment.  It takes confidence to talk about your awareness that a patient is trying to sexually seduce you and your reactions to this situation.

As for whether I would recommend this book, I'm not sure.  I might, especially if the person I was recommending it to likes Dr. Drew, but my dislike of his TV shows doesn't make me want to.  But, books are what they are.  If you're interested in a basic overview of one model of addictions and treatment it might be a good place to start.  The patients are interesting, and the story is well told.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

Sober House and Celebrity Rehab are disgusting shows and I despise them. Sort of an example of just how low reality television can sink. However, that being said, Dr. Drew has made a strangely large impact on my life. Before either of those shows existed there was Loveline, which I listened to religiously every weeknight for several years. Truth be told, based on my rather naive upbringing, most of my sexual education came from Dr. Drew and Adam Carolla (his cohost, in case you never listened to the show). And I honestly don't know what I would have done without that. I was a scared kid, making stupid sexual decisions that I had no way of fully understanding and Dr. Drew really was my only semi-healthy source for information on that stuff. So while I completely agree with you that the current television shows are horrifying in almost every sense of the word, I doubt I will ever get over my sense of profound gratitude to the man.
Anyway, I support your dislike, just thought I would toss that out there. :P