Anna Lembke

Psychiatrist

Stanford

The Pleasure Pain Balance

Science

Seeking out pleasure and avoiding pain are fundamental to human existence. But how do our brains process pleasure and pain? One of the most interesting findings in neuroscience in that last 50 years, is the discovery that the areas of the brain which process pleasure, are co-located with those that process pain. Pleasure and pain work like a balance, and by understanding the neuroscience regulating this balance, we can understand why drugs and alcohol, but also behaviors like playing videogames, checking Snapchat, eating chocolate, and Juuling, can ultimately cause suffering. Understanding the balance also helps us make better choices about what and how to indulge in highly pleasurable activities.

Meet the Speaker:

Dr. Lembke was one of the first in the medical community to sound the alarm regarding opioid overprescribing and the opioid epidemic. In 2016, she published her best-selling book on the prescription drug epidemic, Drug Dealer, MD – How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It’s So Hard to Stop, which combines case studies with public policy, cultural anthropology, and neuroscience, to explore the complex relationship between doctors and patients around prescribing controlled drugs. Drug Dealer, MD has had an impact on public policy makers and legislators across the nation. Dr. Lembke testified before Congress, consulted with governors and senators from Kentucky to Missouri to Nevada, was a featured guest on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and appeared on MSNBC with Chris Hayes, the Today Show with Dr. Oz, the Megyn Kelly Show on CBS, and numerous other media broadcasts. Using her teaching/academic position and her public platform, Dr. Lembke continues to advocate for people with addiction, educate policymakers and the public about causes of and solutions for the problem of addiction, and improve medical education in the treatment of addiction.