The business of addiction

Compulsive gaming, shopping, binge eating... This is how big business is turning our bad habits into addictions.

Limbic capitalism

Is capitalism turning us into addicts? According to historian and addiction expert David T. Courtwright, "limbic capitalism" – which refers to the part of the brain that deals with pleasure and motivation – cultivates our addictive behavior and bad habits for profit. Big Business has hijacked our limbic system, according to Courtwright. And with the explosion of technological innovation, addictions have greatly expanded.

Capitalism's evil twin

“When people talked about addiction, they talked about alcohol and heroin and maybe tobacco. But now people talk about addiction to social media, to tanning salons to gambling to shopping. The whole concept of addiction has expanded greatly. And that's really what I wanted to explore is how do we get to this situation where more and more things are at least potentially addictive? Limbic capitalism is basically capitalism's evil twin. It's not capitalism per se. Now, admittedly, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with capitalism. There is an extra set of special problems around addiction that characterize limbic capitalism. The really insidious thing about digital addictions is that the internet is now an opt-out technology. You have to make a conscious decision to opt out and be different and isolate yourself. In the mid 20th century, cigarette smoking was actually an opt-out technology. If you were a young person, you were considered weird if you didn't smoke. It was normal to smoke if you wanted to”, David Courtwright tells Brut.

Youth targeted

The average smartphone user touches their phone 2617 times a day based on data from Dscout. Various of ppl touching their phones and we spend an average of 5 years and 4 months of our lifetimes on social media according Mediakix. Youth are the primary target of limbic capitalism. With 50% of teens admitting to feeling addicted to their smartphone – phone addiction might be the new smoking according to information in line with Common Sense Media.


12/28/2019 6:00 PM


  • Kyle A.
    02/01/2020 03:57

    Definitely addicted to my phone

  • Radu V.
    01/31/2020 14:56

    consumer losers

  • Pinutbotar J.
    01/30/2020 22:35

    Okay, let's look into rates of alcoholism in Venezuela or the Soviet Union and compare it to the west.

  • Austen L.
    01/30/2020 17:22

    Smoking? Really? Like no one smokes anymore.... and if they do they quit when their 20 or switch to vaping.... 😐

  • Kenny V.
    01/29/2020 08:12

    Everyone defending capitalism should watch the video again. He never once said capitalism is a problem. It's making products that specifically target your limbic system to intentionally cause dependence on said product.

  • Antonio L.
    01/28/2020 21:03

    Whats the name of that beat? Lolz

  • Robert H.
    01/28/2020 17:40

    This is trash only trash people will like it

  • Pete S.
    01/27/2020 15:07

    Blaming capitalism for addiction is like blaming cars for vehicular homicide. . . or guns for mass shootings.

  • Michael C.
    01/27/2020 01:59

    That’s the nice thing about capitalism. It’s an ideology that treats you like an adult. We can be addicted if we want, but have the freedom to cut back too.

  • Al J.
    01/26/2020 23:45

    Ok Boomer

  • Joshua C.
    01/26/2020 20:07

    It's called self control. We stop teaching kids self control these days and wonder why they fall victim to the stupidest schemes. We can't blame "capitalism" for our failures in society. Capitalism, unlike socialism, makes an unprecedented amount of goods available to the common man. So it sounds like capitalism is working and that its the people who are broken.

  • Harley A.
    01/26/2020 08:19


  • Brandon K.
    01/25/2020 05:11

    Capitalism is the downfall of humanity

  • Guitart J.
    01/24/2020 21:06

    So you’re saying that people can’t think for themselves someone like the government needs to think for them.

  • Tony H.
    01/22/2020 18:35

    Sounds like communist propaganda, but ok.

  • Dorio S.
    01/22/2020 03:00

    Yes so lets embrace socialism.....smh

  • Badmonkey B.
    01/21/2020 10:55

    anything to make capitalism evil. it’s not capitalism, its consumerism that is the inherent problem. this idea that we have been taught through advertising, we need the next big thing, the latest and greatest, you’re not cool if you don’t have “X” why do you need a new iphone? you just got one last year? is there really a difference in a pair of air jordan’s and high quality no name brand? its the idea that, if you have money in your pocket, you need to spend it. that is NOT capitalism. capitalism is a economic system where people are free to exchange goods and services. value of something is based on what someone is willing to pay for it. people always lump consumerism and corporatism in as capitalism, and that’s disingenuous to tarnish what a free market is all about, and to sell the lies of socialism and that “somebody (a government) needs to step in and control it” the free market WILL correct its self if there is an imbalance.

  • Jay B.
    01/21/2020 08:44

    I agree with most of what hes saying but I find it ironic and funny that he is talking to me through social media.

  • Logan T.
    01/18/2020 12:07

    Capitalism is not to blame....what is to blame is people's own lack of self control and that goes for anything you can stop if you really want to but nobody's ready for that conversation

  • Hayden P.
    01/17/2020 23:15

    Being able to get what you need at anytime...Is better than having to beg for what you need everytime Capitalism vs socialism

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