HOOKED – “We live in a highly addicted society. In a choice environment encompassing everything from social inequality, genetic predisposition and peer pressure, everyday things transform into addictive substances and behaviours. (Science Gallery, London, publicity material for ‘Hooked’.)
Addiction is all around us, because drugs are all around us (caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are legal, but mood-altering drugs. And then there are the illicit ones). But addiction goes beyond substances, the twenty-first century has seen a huge surge in behavioural addictions, at Castle Craig Hospital we see many admissions with this kind of problem. Gambling, gaming, porn, shopping or simply phone or internet use can all become highly addictive behaviours.
How many times a day do you check your phone? What do you use the internet for, and for how long each day? How does it feel to you when someone ‘likes’ your Facebook post?
The Addiction Exhibition
This exhibition explores addiction from the scientific point of view, exhibits demonstrate the often subversively addictive nature of what comes up on our screens. It goes into the neuroscience of what goes on in our brains when we indulge in addictive activities, and it looks at how we respond.
It also considers Society’s attitudes towards addiction (junkies are ‘criminals’, abstinent addicts are ‘clean’ so, one supposes, users are ‘dirty’.) Is it not time to change some of these age-old attitudes, with a view to somehow ameliorating this addictive bind that we find ourselves in? After all, present day attitudes and methods haven’t done much to Improve the addiction statistics.
The ‘HOOKED’ Addiction Exhibition has four main sections:
NATURAL BORN THRILLERS – What leads us into addiction and how do our brains respond, as well as our emotions? How do societal factors such as peer pressure affect us?
SPEED OF LIGHT – The power of the digital world and the hidden persuaders that lead us into addiction.
FREE WILL – Do we have choices about addiction and should society re-examine attitudes and be less quick to condemn? Is it helpful to call addiction a ‘disease’?
SAFE FROM HARM – Recovery and rehabilitation. Can the present methods be improved? What really goes on when people are in treatment?
What’s there to see?
Most of the exhibits are videos or sound installations though there are a few more observational artworks such as the thought-provoking ‘Sugar Rush’ by Atelier 010, a gradually disintegrating table made of actual sugar (replacements are provided every few days).
This is an unusual exhibition because it shows us addiction through the combined lenses of art and science, and in so doing takes us out of our comfort zone of preconceived ideas.
What’s the idea?
Behind it all is the idea that addiction itself has been around for a very long time, but it is getting to be a bigger problem than ever before. Just keeping on doing things the way we already do them, although there have been successes, seems unlikely to help us beat it. We need new ideas and new ways of doing things.
This exhibition asks questions rather than gives answers, but is certainly a step in the right direction and is well worth visiting.
The Exhibition also contains workshops and special events on certain days and runs until January 2019.
A visit to ‘Hooked’ by BBC Radio 4’s Adam Rutherford provoked some interesting discussions
Castle Craig is one of the most established and respected addiction rehab centres in the UK. Castle Craig provides consulting psychiatrists who diagnose associated mental illnesses like anxiety states, depression, ADD, PTSD, eating disorders, compulsive gambling, and compulsive relationships. For information, call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line: 0808 256 3732. From outside the UK please call: +44 808 271 7500 (normal charges apply).