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Candice Shelby

SHELBY SEEKS TO UNDERSTAND ADDICTION

As soon as the Sentry arrived in Associate Professor of Philosophy Candice Shelby’s office, Shelby eased into her chair and talked about her recent trip to Washington D.C. where she and few students went to compete in an Ethics Bowl competition.

Unfortunately, they didn’t make it to the semifinals. However, Shelby isn’t upset. If anything, she’s happy she even went.

“My book offers a different approach to understanding what addiction is.”

—Candice Shelby

Associate Professor Department of Philosophy | College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Shelby also has an interest in addiction and takes a philosophical approach to understanding addiction. After seven years of research on addiction, she felt she could offer some guidance. Shelby recently released her first book, Addiction: A Philosophical Perspective on March 2, and has received positive reviews from her peers.

“My book offers a different approach to understanding what addiction is and a different level of hope of getting past addictions,” Shelby said.

Shelby’s inspiration to write her book came several years ago, when she held an interdisciplinary conference between mind and brain on campus and invited those from the Anschutz Medical Campus. After hearing someone from the Addiction Recovery Center at Anschutz claim that the only way out of addiction is a ‘spiritual path to God,’ Shelby quickly disagreed and became curious.

“That seemed to me exactly wrong,” Shelby said. “She was both saying that addiction is a disease and that the recovery of the function is of your spiritual development. If there was a disease, there should be medical answers.”

Shelby then began background research on education, biology, psychology, and neuroscience in order to better understand what addiction is. For Shelby, addiction is an issue that hits close to home. She witnessed the effects of addiction via her family.

“I had a mother, father, and sister who all died from one kind of addiction or another,” Shelby said. “They all died and I don’t think it had to do with their character. There are moments when it’s difficult to have to revisit those cases.”

Shelby never intended to write a book, but chose to when she had a sabbatical and decided it was time to write about her experiences and what she’s learned. After having written several philosophy papers, she realized it’s easier to write about certain subjects over others.

“It’s kind of terrifying to write a book,” Shelby said. “I’ve learned that science is far easier to write about than philosophy.”

“What I’d like to do now is focus on things like motivation, conflict, and some mental phenomena,” Shelby said. “This [book] felt like it pressed itself on me. It seemed to me that the project was crying to be done. I chose it because it hits close to home.”

Shelby will offer insight and talk about this epidemic overseas this summer in Italy and China.

“I’ve already been told that many Chinese students are so addicted to their devices that they’ve been found dead in Internet cafes,” Shelby said. “There is a remarkable connection between addiction and trauma. The vast majority of people have become addicted to something.”

—Dilkush Khan

Above :Candice Shelby published her first book March 2.

photo: Nicole Elizabeth • CU Denver Sentry

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