Living with Pain

Brought to you by Hopkins at Home

May 20, 4 PM EDT, Lecture
May 22, 4 PM EDT, Lecture
May 27, 12 PM EDT, Livestream

This course combines personal narrative with philosophy and science to explore a key question about addiction: Why do people use drugs despite harrowing negative consequences and how can we better help them when they do?

Session 1: Wednesday, May 20th, 4-5 PM EDT (Travis Rieder)

Session 1 recording available here

America’s Opioid Dilemma

40-minute lecture plus 20 minute Q&A

  • The simultaneous under treatment and overtreatment of pain
  • The history of pain medicine and opioid misuse in America
  • How understanding this history helps to understand American medicine’s mistake—the ‘opioid dilemma’
  • How we can responsibly use opioids even against the backdrop of a drug overdose crisis

Optional Pre-work:

Watch Travis’ TED talk “The Agony of Opioid Withdrawal – and What Doctors Should Tell Patients About It

Read Travis’ book, In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids

Session 2: Friday, May 22nd, 4-5 PM EDT (Hanna Pickard)

Session 2 recording available here

The Puzzle of Addiction

40-minute lecture plus 20 minute Q&A

  • Defining the puzzle of addiction
  • Choice in addiction: moving beyond the debate between moral and disease models
  • Why do people use drugs?
  • How to solve the puzzle: brain, mind, identity, society
  • One size does not fit all: understanding individual differences and the heterogeneity of addiction

Optional Pre-work:

Hanna’s BBC Radio Four Thought Talk “Understanding Drug Addiction


Session 3: Wednesday, May 27th 12-1 PM EDT (Travis Rieder and Hanna Pickard)

Session 3 recording available here

A Conversation about Drugs and Addiction - Live on

Join Travis Rieder and Hanna Pickard for an interactive and informal conversation about the experiences and ideas that have led to the development of this course.


Hanna Pickard (BA Hons, BPhil, DPhil) is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University, cross-appointed to the William H. Miller III Department of Philosophy and the Berman Institute of Bioethics, and affiliated with the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Prior to joining Hopkins, she held a Chair in Philosophy of Psychology at the University of Birmingham U.K. and was a Visiting Research Scholar to Princeton University's Program in Cognitive Science (2017-19) as well as a Fellow of All Souls College at the University of Oxford (1997-2017). In addition to her academic work, from she also worked for many years as an Assistant Team Therapist at the Oxford Health NHS Trust Oxfordshire Complex Needs Service, a specialist service for people with personality disorders and complex needs.  


Travis N. Rieder, PhD is a philosopher and bioethicist at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, where he directs the Master of Bioethics degree program. Dr. Rieder has written and spoken on many topics, but his work has focused in recent years on the ethical and policy issues raised by America’s opioid crisis. On that subject, he has written widely for both the popular and peer-reviewed literature, given a TED talk that has been viewed more than 2 million times, and has published a book with HarperCollins titled In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids.



 Event Date
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Start Time: 4:00pm
End Time: 5:00pm

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