Psycholigical and Theological Theories of Addiction
: Towards an Integrated Study

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis undertakes a study of human addictions, particularly drug and alcohol dependency, from the disciplines of psychology and theology, working towards an integrated study.
In the first instance it sets out to understand the aetiology of addictive behaviour, as an important stage in the process of helping addicted people to overcome their substance dependency. Secondly, it aims to provide a well-researched and robust framework for the pastoral care of people who are addicted as part of the Christian Churches’ response to serious social problems both for individuals and families.
It is argued that confusion about the aetiology of addiction, and how best to treat addicted people, contributes to the failure of many treatment modalities to provide effective long term relief.
A new model for understanding addiction is proposed. This model begins in a different place: it argues that we would have a better understanding of addiction and how to treat it if we began by investigating human desires and aspirations, before attempting to understand why for some people desire for drugs becomes excessive or distorted.
It is suggested in the final section of the thesis that, in line with Augustinian thought, all human longing has its roots in desire for God, even though people may not be aware that the ultimate goal of their quest is an experience of the divine.
In the concluding discussion and conclusion, we suggest that this model has important contributions to make as a discrete element in the clinical care of addicts and in the area of pastoral and spiritual care whether in parishes or other institutions where pastoral care is provided.
The new model is then related to existing models of pastoral care, and examples are given of how the model is currently being presented in training programmes for pastoral ministry.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorAlister McGrath (Supervisor) & Meg Maguire (Supervisor)

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