JANUARY 2013 BOOK CLUB DISCUSSON FORUM: The War of the Gods in Addiction: C.G. Jung, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Archetypal Evil with David E. Schoen

Jung Platform™, Depth Psychology Alliance™, and Shrink Rap Radio™ have joined forces to bring new educational content in the fields of Jungian and depth psychology. The online book club is a collaborative project that allows interested individuals to connect directly with authors, engage with their work, and to interact on a one-on-one basis.

Join us for free access to an interview with the author, weekly teleseminars (dates and times to come), a written discussion forum here in the Book Club, and more. Plus--supplement this material with an audio presentation by David Schoen from Jung Platform

The January 2013 selection is The War of the Gods in Addiction, based on the correspondence between Bill W., one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous and C.G. Jung, proposes an original, groundbreaking, psychodynamic view of addiction which explains both the creation and successful treatment of alcoholism and other addictions.

Using insights from Jungian psychology, it demonstrates why the 12 steps of AA really work. It emphasizes the crucial process of neutralizing the Archetypal Shadow / Archetypal Evil, an aspect of all true addictions, and explores this concept extensively through theoretical and clinical material, modern and ancient myths, and fairy tales.

The significance of using dreams for diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of addiction is also explained. This book bridges the longstanding gap between the mental health community and 12-step recovering communities and translates concepts necessary to understanding the addictive process in ways that encourage mutual understanding and benefit.

Click here for more details and commentary on the book, plus a look at the Table of Contents f...

Click here for full info on the January 2013 Book Club

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UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who participated in the January 2013 Book Club--both here in the written forum as well as on the four weekly teleconference/Q&A sessions with David. For your convenience, here are links to download/listent to the four archived sessions:

Session 1: January 9

Session 2: January 16

Session 3: January 23

Session 4: January 30

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks, Tascha, for you thoughtful (and magnificent!) reply. I'd been sober/dry for about nine years and not really 'working the program' when another AA member suggested that because I was having horrible nightmares I visit The Apple Farm Community, a Jung-oriented retreat center founded by Helen Luke and others in Three Rivers, MI. There my dream counselor urged me to dig into AA telling me of its ties to Jung. I'd known this long ago when my father, a recovering alcoholic-addict and a counselor at Hazelden showed me the letters. By now I was mad for Jungian ideas and thus more interested in AA. Funny how these things interact. I now have a small group of friends in AA who attend Jung events and can talk Jungian psychology among ourselves. Some of us are taking this class and discussing it via email afterward. I very much look forward to more discussion with you about how you combine AA and Jung.

Ahh Lovely!  This is exciting to connect. 

Well here's something else on my mind (I sent this idea to Bonnie for next week).  (a personal pet peeve you might say):

- the dissolution of the addictive ego typically happens in two different contexts for men and women.  In general male addicts arrive in the program with a strong and assertive/aggressive ego.  AA's steps were created by men for men.  The approach is straightforward and helpful - squash the addictive ego with force and the rest of the steps follow naturally and are based on this premise.  Women on the other hand (again in general) arrive with a passive, even subservient ego due to overculturalization, and it becomes very tricky and confusing to understand what ego it is that steps 1,2,3 are addressing.  Women in general need to build up their ego to a healthy and balanced state, and this does happen eventually, but trying to squash the addictive one is often interpreted as keeping the unhealthy passive one squashed as well.  My only glaring criticism of the program is that it has not evolved to consider contemporary culture. 


Hi Tascha: 

I want to comment on your thoughtful post. I agree that many women come into addiction and recovery with a squashed subservient ego that the culture has re-enforced. Men’s cultural experience and ego development, I agree, is usually different. But regardless, if you are a man or a woman, if you are addicted your ego has been hijacked by the addiction it must be “un-hijacked” (Steps 1, 2, and 3). In rebuilding—or building for the first time in the case of a woman--therapeutic work must be individualized. This is where is good therapist is helpful and analysis helps the cause. --Thanks, David.


Karen and Tascha,

Thank you for your comments from your experience and I very much agree with what both of you are saying with what’s going on and the insights that you have.

On the question of addiction being either a “disease” or constructed with “archetypal shadow/archetypal evil” as a component, they are not inherently contradictory or mutually exclusive to each other—just different—a different lens to look at the phenomenon. I have no problem with the “disease” concept. I’m just saying that this disease carries an archetypal evil/archetypal shadow in its DNA. If anyone thinks differently, please say so!

Hi everyone. Thanks so much for what I found to be a valuable discussion with David on the teleseminar tonight. I learned so much from some of the questions I would have never thought to ask--and I really appreciated David's generosity with his time and the depth of his expertise.

He's asked us to read the letters between Jung and Bill W. for the next session (there are only 2) and he'll kick us off with a few words about those at the beginning. Meanwhile, please post comments, thoughts, questions, wonderings here as you read---or as you "think," even if you haven't had a chance to do the reading. You heard David--just generating discussion around what are very compelling and even provocative concepts David writes about is enough. On that note, I encourage you to read and respond to the question posed by Karen in the section just above this post about disease vs. archetypal evil--or ask a question of your own. 

Meanwhile, I'll be posting the link for the archived recording here shortly, so you can listen/re-listen in preparation for next week. Thanks, everyone!

Hello to everyone.  I'm a total newcomer to this group, but I have been in recovery for 3 years (a 12 step program, not AA).  I have had two psychoanalyses (from Freudian analysts).  I have begun to read Jungian literature -- admittedly through a Freudian lens -- and my guide so far is Edward Whitmont. With all that said, let me offer some thoughts about the "disease" language of addiction.  First, a historical note.  In some ways, it is a wonderful triumph that our society regards chemical addictions as diseases.  It's a less shaming and more hopeful framing than the earlier models of sin or moral failure.  But the incredible success of "disease" language carries the danger of psychological shallowness.  An obvious disease like pneumonia has, in itself, no psychological depth. But a condition like chronic substance dependence with binges, blackouts, and eventual self-destruction... is clearly the work of psyche.   Friends in my 12-step groups often say "the disease is progressive", when what they really mean is, "the unconscious is powerful, its messages are overwhelming, and they will announce themselves more loudly if you don't start paying attention." Maybe their "disease" lingo is just a quick-and-dirty way of saying the same thing. But unfortunately it can also short-circuit the efforts at excavating unconscious motivation,  seeking the personal significance of dreams, and attuning oneself to the symbolic meaning of symptoms like dependence and the desire to numb one's pain through relapse. ... Thanks for listening!

Hi Paul. Welcome to the group. I think your comments echo the depth psychological perspective very well--in that, while all disease has some kind of psychological aspect, addiction carries so much of it upfront. Delving into our dreams and other depth methods to get to the unconscious can be very powerful. Hope you'll be joining us on the all tonight. Would love for you to share this with the group and get David's perspective as well...

Hi everyone. Looking forward to connecting with you again on Wednesday with David: same time, same place, same dial in and pin. Hope you're well into the reading--and/or considering questions and comments for the discussion.

Meanwhile, I came across this article from Elliott Dacher, M.D. whom some of you might be familiar. I thought it had some interesting correlations with David's work: "Addictive Disorders and Contemplative Practice"--Elliott S. Dacher...

Would love to know what you think...

Hi all. Great questions tonight! Here's the link to download tonight's January 16th (Week 2 of 4) teleconference with David

Hi everyone. I wanted to share an article I found online that summarizes David's book. I know at this stage most of you are quite familiar with the concepts--which David has also expounded on in the two teleseminars we've done, but thought you might like to have this to re-enforce the understanding: Caught Between the Devil and Deliverance by Fr. Bill Wigmore. 

I just participated in the teleseminar for this week.  It was wonderful.  Thanks for offering it.


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