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Comparative Analysis of the Danger of Drug Addiction and Behavioral Addictions on the Examples of Famous Literary Heroes

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People know quite a lot about addiction – not only about drug addiction and alcoholism, but also about bulimia, shopaholism and deceit. Cinematography is often referred to the topic of non-chemical dependencies: these topics are touched upon, for example, in Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac’ and Damien Chazelle’s ‘Whiplash’. However, in the classical literature, other types of addiction are more common. Literature provides a wide range of addicted characters. Alexei Ivanovich in the novel ‘The Gambler’ of Fyodor Dostoevsky – the player who gave his life to the roulette. Alexandr Luzhin in ‘The Luzhin Defence’ of Vladimir Nabokov, running to the world of chess pieces. Obsessed with the idea of the power Lady Macbeth by Nikolai Leskov. Obsessed with eternally elusive youth Humbert from ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov. In order to understand the nature of addiction, main causes and mechanisms for the development of addiction are analyzed on the example of literary heroes, describes in detail the characteristics of the most vulnerable to the formation of addiction layers of the population, as well as the clinical and psychopathological symptoms, allowing to verify the existence of dependence.

The relevance of the study of psychological factors that influence the formation of dependence among people is determined, firstly, by the fact that the number of addicts increases in different ways. Secondly, the processes of social interaction are now so complicated that it determines the relevance of the analysis of the problems of socio-psychological adaptation, as well as uncertainty for the individual in a society that is developing rapidly. It is not specifically about drug addiction, smoking, computer, gaming addiction – these are just forms of addiction, although they differ from each other, but they are based on the same mechanism of forming a dependent form of behavior or a mechanism of becoming addicts. For a healthy person, satisfaction and a sense of psychological comfort are associated with the realization of their conscious needs. This is a series of basic biological needs, psychological needs, intellectual needs, and social needs. To fulfill these needs, a healthy person makes efforts, interprets strategy and gains skills. Escape to addiction is a rejection of the choice that any adult has. Instead of becoming addicted, which means choosing a life full of hopeless suffering and pain, people can always set a goal and strive to achieve it despite incredibly difficult life circumstances. By West, the theory of addiction needs to be based on a theory of motivation, and it makes sense to think of addiction as a disorder of motivation (West 20).

Hoarding disorders. A painful addiction to property knows no borders. People with the syndrome of pathological hoarding over-care for the preservation of objects that for others may seem useless. They have constant difficulties in getting rid of old property, which leads to confusion, which prevents the use of residential or work premises. Accumulation is not the same as collecting. Collectors are looking for specific items, such as car models or brands, and store them in an organized or exhibited way. People with pathological hoarding often leave random objects and store them randomly. In most cases, they retain items that they believe may be needed in the future, valuable or have sentimental value. Some may also feel more secure in the surroundings of the things they have accumulated. Some studies show that this disorder is more common in men than in women. It is also more common in older people. Indiscriminate hoarding can cause problems in relationships, social and work activities, and in other important areas of operation. Potential consequences of serious hoarding include health and safety problems, such as fire hazards, the risk of stumbling or injury. It can also lead to tension in the family and conflict, isolation and loneliness, unwillingness to receive guests in the house and inability to perform daily tasks, such as cooking and bathing.

The brightest carrier of this disease is the character of Nikolai Gogol’s ‘Dead Souls’ – Stepan Plyushkin. He was a zealous owner, a kind husband and a caring father, year after year his estate was rich, and neighbors came to him to learn how to farm. Suddenly, something happened to Plyushkin, now he appears in a polished coat and with an unknown rag tied around his neck, the flour in his basements is turning to the stone, and the luggage and stacks turn into manure. The character’s wife dies, and it is in this that Gogol sees the cause of his illness: “Plyushkin grew more restless and, like all widowers, more suspicious and stingier” (Gogol 118). The more stingy he is, the more lonely – the children run away, the youngest daughter dies. And the more lonely he is, the meaner. He is unable to part with one thing in the house, he does not want sell the harvest and dead souls, he is unable to finish the moldy piece of cake. He gives a beloved grandson a button – this is the absolute pinnacle of his generosity. English twin of Plyushkin – Ebenezer Scrooge, the protagonist of the parable of Charles Dickens. He experienced another drama – a lonely childhood away from home and family. Year after year, he spent Christmas Eve in a school boarding house, where it was always cold, gloomy, smelled of mold and where the roof flowed. There is a short and very important scene in the entire text for understanding the character of the hero: a sister comes to the boarding house for a teenager Scrooge. Through the tears of happiness, she says: “Home, for good and all. Home, for ever and ever. Father is so much kinder than he used to be, that home is like Heaven” (Dickens 32). The reader remains in the dark about what Scrooge Sr. did before, whether he was a tyrant or a drunkard, a fighter, or a player. However, in adult life, Ebenezer Scrooge prefers books, bills, money and promissory notes to human society and persistent round-the-clock work instead of festivities. Scrooge, like Plyushkin, does not give money to anyone and does not spend it on himself. In a very cold weather his office and apartment is not heated, he dines once a day in a penny tavern and eats a liquid oatmeal before sleep against cold. He senselessly and aimlessly saves money – that’s all. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common form of treatment for this disease. It is designed to help people manage their problems and experiences. The therapy sessions are held in the form of friendly conversations, where the doctor and the patient define common goals, why the passion for hoarding should be overcome. In class, the doctor explains to the patient how dangerous “Plyushkin syndrome” is, how to deal with it and recover from this disease. In order to achieve certain treatment goals, it may take months.

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One hundred years later, John R. R. Tolkien absolutized the idea of addiction to things when the Smeagol’s gaze fell on the One Ring. Here two Old Testament stories came together – ‘the Golden Calf’ and ‘Cain’. Unable to part with the ring, Smeagol killed his brother Deagol and became Gollum – a creature living in underground caves all alone, eating carrion and ready for anything, just not to be parted from his “precious”. The relationship of Gollum and the Ring begins with a murder, and there is no way out. Gollum belongs to the Ring from the first second – all, to the bottom, entirely. He never makes attempts to get rid of the Ring or to tell others about it, he faithfully observes the first rule of the addicts – the rule of silence. Even forced separation from the subject of addiction does not cure him: for years he hears the call of the Ring. The crescendo of their story sounds when Gollum, who by his nature is cowardly and clinging wildly to his life, becomes obsessed with the Ring so much that he dies with it. Tom Shippey, a researcher of Tolkien’s creativity, noted that the author introduced certain rules, but only partially observes them: for some reason the bearers of the ring are not subject to his “hypnosis”, but other heroes suffer from it (Shippey 139). He found an explanation by comparing the addiction to the Ring with addiction to drugs. The only difference is that person can pick up this addiction without even wearing the Ring, but only wishing to own it. Enchantment reinforces this irrational passion, causing a breakage, and it is no longer so important whether in fact the Ring gives any strength or the drug addict simply convinced himself of this. Besides, all the three heroes tried to “cure”. In the third part of ‘Dead Souls’, Gogol planned to send Plyushkin by foot to Siberia to search his escaped daughter – this journey would become a symbol of the spiritual path. Tolkien left Gollum in the company of Frodo and Sam on the way to Orodruin for a whole month – and a month of general fear, hardship, support and kindness returned his human feelings, but this was not enough. Only Scrooge was fully healed – Dickens gives his hero a new life for Christmas, full of gratitude, generosity and happiness.

The most frequent case of female addiction in literature is love. Love addiction is a strong passion, dependence on a person. Love addiction is not a kind of love. It is a type of addiction, just like drugs, alcohol, virtual fortune telling or gaming machines. Despite this, many people take addiction for love. They sincerely believe that pain is a property of love, although in reality it is a property of dependence. Actually, this is one of the main difficulties in treating love addiction: until a person perceives his/her heartache as a manifestation of love, he/she does not want to get rid of it. Because true love is worth suffering. By the way, psychological dependence is more severe in women, in particular, because women, more than men, are influenced by feelings, are more inclined to surrender to them completely. Even if the absence of a loved one is difficult to endure, then the thought that he may stop loving may be unbearable for an addict, and her partner’s departure becomes a disaster. Love turns into power that cannot be controlled.

A striking example is ‘Anna Karenina’. A faithful and virtuous spouse, Anna meets count Alexei Vronsky and tightly “sticks”, merges with him. Whether she in love with him or not – that is the question, but it is absolutely clear that Anna is addicted to the feeling: she is loved, she has one who looks at her with enthusiasm and admiration. Tolstoy does not write about sexual addiction. On the contrary, the impossible, terrible and all the more charming Anna’s dream came true, but it turned for for her into a sense of physical humiliation (Tolstoy 146). In the name of happiness, to feel loved, Anna leaves her husband, child, home, high society and her entire past life. Anna breaks up with Vronsky many times. Similar desperate and unsuccessful attempts are made by people trying to stop drinking. Half-dead, Anna reconciles with her husband and returns home, but soon the full cycle of addiction is repeated. As soon as family life – now with Vronsky – dulls the love, and the fire of adoration dims in his eyes, Anna becomes unbearable to live. This model of behavior is uniquely dependent, neurotic. Such cases in the classical literature, unfortunately, are not uncommon. As, however, in life.

Addictions are a complex, tight knot in which everything is tied up: the medical aspect (biomedical, biochemical, physiological), the psychological aspect, social, economic, socio-cultural, cultural and other aspects. It should be noted that people can develop addiction by unconsciously tend to experience only those states that they once felt in excess measure, again and again. It is about the strongest, powerful emotional outbursts that a person seeks to experience. Another feature of addicted states is that they are amplified when a person enters the environment of people experiencing the same sensations (crowd effect). When one’s internal vibrations of a person coincide with external vibrations from other people, the effect of resonance of wave oscillations arises, and the level of sensations sharply increases. That is, people who enjoy the same conditions, unconsciously seek to come together and feast together. At the same time, they can experience sensations that are much stronger and sharper than similar sensations, but experienced alone. Changes in the brain, observed with drug addiction, do not differ from those that occur with behavioral addictions. Almost any form of addiction is difficult to get rid of. No one wants to voluntarily lose a cherished desire. To date, there is no one definite guaranteed way to get rid of addiction, but everyone agrees that the problem is not in the object of addiction (drugs, alcohol, games, love), but in the person falling into this slavery. On the example of literary heroes was investigated that whatever a person uses to change consciousness – chemicals (alcohol, drugs, tobacco), self-persuasion (fanaticism, love, and meditation), behavioral deviations (asociality, hyper/hypo/asexuality, unacceptable sexual behavior, altruism, auto-aggression, excitement) – only one biochemical mechanism is a desired target. It is very important to understand the origins of addiction, because if a person can become aware of his/her problem, he/she is just as capable of solving it.

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Comparative Analysis of the Danger of Drug Addiction and Behavioral Addictions on the Examples of Famous Literary Heroes. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
“Comparative Analysis of the Danger of Drug Addiction and Behavioral Addictions on the Examples of Famous Literary Heroes.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
Comparative Analysis of the Danger of Drug Addiction and Behavioral Addictions on the Examples of Famous Literary Heroes. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Sept. 2023].
Comparative Analysis of the Danger of Drug Addiction and Behavioral Addictions on the Examples of Famous Literary Heroes [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Sept 25]. Available from:
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