A phenomenology of crack abuse

Joaquin Trujillo, Florida International University


The aim of this dissertation is to identify, describe, and explain the common experiences defining the crack abuser's life-world. Its method is phenomenological. Using basic cybernetic premises, a neurophysiologically oriented phenomenological framework concerning the constitution of thoughts, memories, and perceptions is first written. The framework is designed to hypothetically represent the neuropathology of crack abuse within a perspective that prescinds and describes the constitution, flow, and interdependence of experience. After the framework is written, the dissertation outlines the neuro-psychopharmacology of crack abuse and delimits crack abusers as a specific group within the more general population of cocaine users. It then represents the neuropathology of crack abuse within its phenomenological framework and uses the first-person accounts of forty-two crack dependents to actualize a phenomenological sketch of the crack abuser's life-world. The ethnographies afford the possibility of writing a “thick” description of the crack abuser's daily life—one that communicates the substance, order, and subjective and cultural dimensions of the dependent's defining experiences. The dissertation's goals are successfully realized. The framework written and the ethnographies recorded and transcribed, the dissertation is able to identify, describe, and to a certain extent explain some of the common experiences defining the crack abusers life-world. The dissertation concludes that the crack abuser's life-world is organized around three primary and four secondary experiences. His primary experiences include: (1) an almost complete, yet fleeting, satisfaction of the ego's innate insufficiency and sublime, erotic-like stimulation of its core, (2) a fundamental inclination and expansion of the uniquely oriented euphoria-dysphoria dynamic that vivifies and orients the flow of consciousness, and (3) a change in the ego's innate structure. His secondary experiences include: (a) a characteristic aiming of projects, actions, and conduct toward the procurement and consumption of crack, (b) a denigration in the hold of legitimations and institutionalizations on the thematic field, (c) a strict alignment and a contraction in the scope of logical types pointing to the salient experiences within the stock of knowledge, and (d) for some crack abusers, ontological insecurity, despair, and exhaustion.

Subject Area

Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Public health|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Trujillo, Joaquin, "A phenomenology of crack abuse" (1999). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9922562.