Working on the Self

Jarrett Zigon

in “HIV Is God's Blessing”

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267626
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948327 | DOI:
Working on the Self

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This chapter deals with the particularities of the Church-run rehabilitation process, which emphasizes the need for the rehabilitants to do work on themselves. There is no quick fix for addiction: it is a time-consuming and difficult process of remaking oneself. In this view, a person does not overcome addiction; instead a new, unaddicted person must be made. This is a process that can be accomplished only by means of focused hard work and patience. Although this emphasis on the centrality of the individual is certainly true, a good deal of the success of rehabilitation depends on the work done by the family. It still remains largely a social process. Examining the tension between the individual and the social is vital for proper understanding of the moral approach of the Russian Orthodox Church in their fight against drug addiction and the spread of HIV. Secular therapeutics and traditional soviet practices involved in the process of working on the self are discussed. This mixing makes it clear that the Church-run program cannot be defined by a singular and totalizing morality, but is more productively considered a local moral and ethical assemblage of various aspects of diverse and conflicting moral discourses and ethical practices.

Keywords: social process; moral approach; secular therapeutics; HIV; ethical practices

Chapter.  6954 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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