Addiction in Literature Detectives

Addiction in Literature Detectives

Detectives have brilliant minds and are able to figure things out quicker than than the police can. It is, however, a repeated pattern to have these brilliant detectives have addictions that is either ignored or acknowledged. It is important to learn about the history of detectives with addiction to learn how addiction was viewed in the past and how it is viewed today.

The first detective with addiction was the infamous Sherlock Holmes who was an addict during the time that drugs like cocaine and morphine were misunderstood and legal. He was probably written this way to give the character a fatal flaw since he had a brilliant mind. Holmes was an example of someone who would use drugs to numb the racing thoughts flowing through their brain. Nero Wolfe is another detective who compensates for his overpowered intellect by his food addiction. He would have periods of inactivity where he rarely left the bed to find a way to make him human. Jack Vincennes had alcoholism and drug addiction during the mid 20th century where it was thought of back then as a mortal flaw and fueled by alcohol. It was not until after he got clean that his life went out of control, making it seem like he needed alcohol to help him get through the day.

In the mid 1970s, there was Matthew Scudder where his alcoholism was not a danger to his detective career and was accepted by others of his recovering instead of being looked at as weak. Alcohol was not a way for him to compensate for his brilliant mind or to help him solve crimes but as a way out of his misery. In the early 1980s, Scudder checks into Alcoholics Anonymous which shows that he can still be a great detective despite his addiction. The character of Harry Hole shows that his drinking isolates him and prevents him from making any connections. It even slows him down at work.

Hayden Glass is a sex addict and in a 12 step program who is aware of his problems and working through them. His addiction gives him insight to the criminals he hunts as well as a series of crimes that only a sex addict would understand. These detectives may have started out not acknowledging their addiction but modern detectives are shown working through their addiction to be a better detectives and stronger people.

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