Many thinkers have analyzed the relationship between the person we are right now and the person we will become. A young Tom Schelling habitually went to bed without blankets only to wake up hours later as “cold boy” who cursed “warm boy’s” earlier decision but could not stop the next day’s warm boy from making the same decision again. Derek Parfit wondered why we save for retirement, given that the person we are 40 years from now might as well be a stranger to us.
In behavior change, the difference between the current and future self can be observed in the gym every January. Early in the month, resolution makers crowd the place, but within a few weeks their future selves will have undone their earlier resolve.
Probably no group of people struggle with this duality as much as those who are addicted to alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs. I write about their experiences and what new pharmacology can offer them — a chance to bind their future selves — today in STAT/Boston Globe.