Marc Lewis is a neuroscientist and recently retired full professor of developmental psychology, at the University of Toronto from 1989 to 2010, and at Radboud University in the Netherlands from 2010 to 2016. He is the author or co-author of over 50 journal publications in psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience, editor of an academic book on developmental psychology, and co-author of a book for parents. More recently he has written two books on the science and experience of addiction.
Beginning during his undergraduate years in Berkeley, California, Lewis experimented with a large variety of drugs, eventually becoming addicted to opiates. He moved to Toronto in 1976 and began to study psychology at the University of Toronto, but at the same time encountered serious personal and legal troubles resulting from his addiction. After quitting drugs at age 30, he continued his graduate education in developmental psychology. He received a Ph.D. and license to practice psychology in 1989, and he was appointed to the position of assistant professor the same year.
Around 2006, Marc’s research led him back to addiction, this time as a neuroscientist studying the brain changes that accompany addiction and recovery. His recent book, Memoirs of an Addicted Brain, blends his life story with a user-friendly account of how drugs affect the brain and how alterations in brain function help explain addiction.
His more recent book is The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is Not a Disease, and it has stirred controversy among addicts, their families, addiction researchers, and treatment providers. Lewis claims that the scientific facts don’t support the disease model of addiction. Rather, addiction, like romantic love and other emotionally loaded habits, develops through accelerated learning. Combining scientific views with intimate biographies of addicts who recovered, the book also shows how addiction can be overcome, through self-directed change in one’s goals and perspectives.
Marc now spends his time writing for the popular press, blogging, and giving talks on addiction and related topics.