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Moral Modes of Attention: Transformation of the Self From Addict to Ultramarathon Runner


For individuals whose conditions of daily life are undesirable, even painful, turning attention away from these experiences can serve as a form of relief, and ultimately a method for more long-term coping with their lifeworlds. Building on Thomas Csordas's somatic modes of attention, this paper looks at the way different modes of attention are actively sought with and through the body for a particular group former heroin addicts turned ultra marathon runners. The individuals introduced, instead of undergoing attentional relief through the reception of narcotics, alternatively found they could achieve a reportedly comparable form of relief with an active body's movements through a psychologically gripping and meaningful landscape. Explicitly comparing running ultramarathons to the feeling of being high, these runners find temporary relief through the ephemeral suspension of the demands of both life and the embodied expectations of sober moral transformation. Ultimately, this presentation interrogates what it means to be high, and demonstrates the needed consideration of landscape and space in therapeutic modes of attention.

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