chapter  4
21 Pages

The “Enemy Within”

Gender Deviance in the Mid-Century

Addiction-once a private matter-was redrawn as a national, public burden through the figure of the adolescent addict in the 1950s: “the drug addict cannot succeed: a nation of addicts would perish.”1 In the mid-twentieth century, the “troubled individual” was tagged as a social deviant and political subversive. Addicts began to be figured within the domestic social order as enemies whose unnatural needs and desires could not be satisfied through the “normal” channels of work and family. Maladjustment was the main explanatory framework in New York City’s first post-World War II heroin “epidemic.” The public events recounted in this chapter involved participants from many professions, political perspectives, and academic disciplines. Together they crafted a discursive shift away from older psychoanalytic narratives of desire, craving, and moral deterioration to the new concept of addiction as a pathological response to stress.2 The New York City drug crisis affords a rich opportunity to study the process by which moral indignation and cultural figuration creep into “scientific” proceedings and policy decisions.