This article explores the formation and characterization of early modern addiction through the interactions of mind, body, and will, focusing particularly on the work of the sixteenth-century Christian philosopher Pierre de La Primaudaye. In La Primaudaye’s writings addiction is a wholly internalized behavior, the product of repeated interactions within the mind. Intended for the purpose of cultivating virtuous behaviors, these interactions could become corrupted, resulting in negative addictions formed between overwhelming passions, a clouded judgment, and an inflexible will. The specific types of addiction a person inclined toward were determined by a host of variables, including temperament, age, and gender. As this article reveals, in early modern accounts of addicted behavior young men were associated with lust and old men with contemplation, while women were considered more vulnerable to all addictions, virtuous and sinful. The image of addiction that emerges from this examination is one not of a disease or a disorder, but of a natural function of the body that could on occasion be led astray.

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