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Press Release - 12 April 2007

Love hurts: conference explores the link to addiction

The link between love and addiction will be explored at an innovative, international conference to be held at Bath’s Guildhall from 9-11 May.

The Love and Baggage multi-disciplinary conference is run by the organisation Unhooked Thinking, founded by the Bath-based author and former heroin addict, William Pryor and Dr Alan Rayner of the University of Bath.

The organisers hope to inspire fresh thinking on addiction, bringing together a novel mix of academics, professionals and others to share their insight on the subject from the fields of science, philosophy and art.

Running for the second year, the three-day conference will include lectures and discussions under the themes of relationships; love and conflict; and families.

Film director Gillies MacKinnon will introduce a film he made 20 years ago about homelessness and alcohol, The Grass Arena, based on the autobiography of John Healy.

Dr Rayner, Reader in the University’s Department of Biology and Biochemistry, said: “This year is even more groundbreaking because we are daring to ask questions about the link between addiction and love. It is an extraordinary symptom of our age that people find it so hard to talk about love. It suggests something in our culture that is a major barrier to love and talking about it.

“There is a whole way of thinking, which is more and more ingrained in our society, which is about the dislocation of the individual and self from their neighbourhood. Many of us feel very isolated. Out of this come feelings of adversity, loneliness and lack of meaning in life, from which obsessive and compulsive patterns of behaviour arise. People are trying to give meaning to life in a culture that denies meaning. In many ways addiction could be a symptom of lack of love”

Tickets to the conference are currently offered to local residents and University staff with a 20 per cent discount. To find out more and register online see the Related Links section.

The conference launches on 8 May with a session on the role of spas in addiction treatment to be held at the Bath Thermae Spa, followed by a civic reception at the Roman Baths.

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