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

Views: 776

Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for your participation, Tracy, and for offering a question during the session. I believe the discussion just gets richer every week.

Tonight, as you heard, David talked about the personal shadow and how we turn to addiction when there's no place for our issues to be addressed and how the addiction is ultimately a coping mechanism that has gone too far, becoming the most powerful dynamic in the psyche.

I really appreciated the ensuing disucssion around the need for support, community, and AA as it's virtually impossible to deal with an addiction and the toxic archetypal forces at work alone.

Next week, as you heard, David will address the dreams of individuals related to addiction. It should be equally fascinating and valuable.

Greetings all. Here's the link for the archived recording of Week 3 of the teleconference with David Schoen.

Next week--our final week-- we will discuss Chapter Four in the book: Shadow Work and the Healing Process of Recovery and David will translate the stages in the psychodynamics of recovery. He'll also address dreams and how they can greatly assist one on the journey of both addiction recovery and in exploring the vast psychological territory of the unconscious. See you there.

Hi,

I missed last night's seminar due to work. Waiting for the link to hear it! Thanks!

Hi Mary (and all). The links are all posted in the Book Club/Discussion Forum for David Schoen (January 2013). Let me know if you have trouble finding them.

Hi Everyone, I'm very much looking forward to tonight discussion on dreams and addiction.

The post I offer below has been brewing over the last four weeks of this teleseminar - a gift of this event, so thank you.

Hi Bonnie and David,

 

I’d like to leave some ideas for discussion with the community regarding the female experience in addiction and recovery.  These ideas build off of some comments I made in the first week of the teleseminar ; ie the state of the female ego coming into recovery and the challenge a lot of women have distinguishing archetypal evil in steps 1,2,3 from a deflated, overcultured  personal ego.

 

I joined the Red Book Study Group on the Jung Platform.  Robert Bosnak introduces us to European society at the time Jung wrote the Red Book.

 

‘The world and society in 1913 looked like this: life is completely confined and shakled.  A kind of economic fatalism prevails; each individual, whether he resists it or not, is assigned a specific role and with it his interests and his character.  The church is regarded as a ‘redemption factory’ of little importance, lieterature as a safety valve…. The most burning question day and night is:  is there anywhere a force that is strong enough to put an end to this state of affairs?  And if not, how can one escape it’

 

This is the ‘spirit of the time’.  He is emphatic that Jung’s work at this time should only ever be considered a reflection of the spirit of that time.  And similar investigations done now, would never be recreated because of time, society and culture of the current era.  I believe the lasting grips of this time seep into the same time period during which AA was founded.  We receive a textbook of ideas and guidelines to recovery that are a direct result of the spirit of that time.  Hence chapters in the Big Book such as ‘To the Wives’ and ‘To the Employers’.  It is a text written by men for men, in a time staunch with overt patriarchy.

 

I got a call from a woman who relapsed last night.  In the midst of addressing archetypal evil, a non-existant ego, withdrawal, and personal shadow, she was experiencing the absolute overwhelm of coming face to face with oppressive patriarchy in the AA literature and her interaction with men.  Most female addicts (~70-80%) have experienced some form of trauma in their lives, and likely as the result of interacting with some sort of male authority figure (person/institution/hierarchy).  While being finally sober, the woman is potentially faced with retraumatization from the structure and delivery from that which is supposed to neutralize, soothe and restore.    I faced this experience heading into AA with male trauma.  Women talk about these issues all the time, however I have noticed they don’t feel safe enough to discuss them honestly in the broad fellowship, because it has been adamant about not changing to reflect the current time.  I believe AA is so successful because its principle are sound and effective, but I also know it is the only program on the market offering a spiritual solution.  It’s like saying Ford’s sure are popular, when it’s the only car being manufactured. 

 

Early sobriety is extremely difficult to navigate for anyone, and I wanted to highlight these ideas so that your community and practitioners alike engage in offering the most appropriate support to women in their recovery.  What is out there is good, but it’s not great in the context of many women’s experiences.

 

In the spirit of sobriety , happiness and freedom,

Tascha - Vancouver

From David:

Tascha--I wanted to comment on your post. You make some very interesting points about AA and the feminine ego. I agree that the 12 steps were formulated by men in a patriarchal cultural mindset. I agree the language is overly masculine. I see the language as an unnecessary stumbling block for some women. It could be more inclusive and gender neutral. Sometimes it makes it harder for people to appreciate the essence and principles of AA. It is very anachronistic. That being said, I am not in a position to change things in AA. I do wish they would.

I am very sorry for the woman who relapsed and I agree the negative male energy has a lot to do with it. Power can be abused in a patriarchal way by men and women. I recently talked to a client in Al Anon (she was in for 35 years) who was publically shamed inappropriately in an Al Anon meeting and she quit that group because of that--though er healthy ego went back to the group and gave them feedback on why she thought newcomers weren't coming back.

AA should not be a good old boys club or a bastien of the "men-only" mentality. Too many women and some men's lives depend on it. ~David

Hi David,

 

I appreciate your reply.  I know you can’t change AA.  It took me a long time to figure out if I was projecting my own unresolved powerlessness onto the program.  In the end, I don’t think so.  It’s in the spirit of ending suffering for all.  And simply exposing barriers to recovery that aren’t yet being discussed fully.  Recovery is complex.

 

For everyone, I’ll leave a few resources:

 

Here’s on online seminar series on Recovery.  Recovery 2.0.  5 days, free, online and happening in March.  Seems as though they are really addressing the issue you brought up – life after sobriety and enriching your life and recovery.

 

http://www.entheos.com/Recovery2point0/Dr-Gabor-Mate

 

 

And I highly recommend this documentary.  The Jungle Prescription featuring Dr. Gabor Mate.  He has been working with addicts in the downtown eastside of Vancouver (poorest postal code in Canada) for a long time.  And has written ‘In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts’, a look at addiction.  Indeed he is referring to archetypal evil as the hungry ghost.   The documentary looks at indigenous use of botanicals in ceremony to help addicts confront their personal shadow.  For some, the trauma is so huge that without some help, the idea of confronting the pain locked up in the shadow keeps the individual in addiction.

 

http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episode/jungle-prescription.html

Thank you all for a remarkable 4-week teleconference series. Your questions and comments for David Schoen--in combination with his generosity of time, expertise, and conscious awareness has made for a great educational experience. I learned so much and I hope you did too! Here's the link for the 4th and final session in series: http://www.depthinsights.com/teleseminar/DavidSchoen4of4_Addiction-...

Hello, everybody:

Here's just a big "thank you" to Bonnie Bright, David Schoen, and all the participants to this email thread.  I joined the Depth Psychology alliance *very* recently, immediately bought David's book "The War of the Gods in Addiction" and have so far read the first third.  It's been enormously helpful both for my intellectual understanding of the topic (addiction from the Jungian perspective) and my own recovery work (I just marked three years since entering my 12 step group).  I do hope the discussion will continue....

I was struck especially by two points made in the early chapters of the book.  First, David Schoen identifies "hitting bottom" with a psychological conversion experience.  That's a provocative linkage.  In my recovery group, people usually regard hitting bottom as a species of despair, the gut feeling of "no way out but death."  Their talk does not have the flavor of conversion, but instead its necessary precursor. Hitting bottom ignites a serious process of searching, but not (yet) the effort to renounce ego and its monotonous schemes.  Speaking personally, hitting bottom meant for me the realization that I was indeed completely trapped in endless and futile cycles of compulsive acting out. It has the aura of  total honesty and the end of denial.  Again, that's a different phenomenon than conversion, in William James's sense.  But I am not criticizing Schoen's idea; I am simply trying to assimilate it to my own experience of addiction and recovery.

Second, I am wondering if addictive behavior carries meanings from two levels of unconsciousness -- personal and transpersonal (for lack of a better word).  On the personal level, addictive behavior contains coded messages of the sort "My pain is so great that my chosen addiction is the only possible means of expressing it and temporarily dulling it."  Learning to decode this message is, in fact, a crucial step in my own recovery.  This message has meaning only in light the details of my childhood development.  On the transpersonal level, we have Jung's notion of alcoholism as sort of misdirected spiritual search.  The addictive behavior *is* meaningful, and if faced honestly and with compassion, it contains certain messages that can heal.  The behavior braids together both highly personal meanings and generically human needs for recognition and connection.  To invoke a Freudian language of dream symbolism,  the addictive behavior condenses many different meanings into one. Disentangling them is such hard work!

Well, hope this is helpful; at the least, thanks again for the opportunity to put it into words.

Just joined this website and book group. And just ordered the book!

I wish I would have done so sooner! I am currently working on a qualitative research project for my social work doctoral program. For my research, I have observed NA meetings and interviewed several participants and have been focusing on the interview answers that discuss aspects of the "spiritual disease" as well as program rituals.

I read the text, "Facing the dragon: confronting personal and spiritual grandiosity" by Robert Moore and felt strongly that the 12 step programs are a place where this archetypal evil and personal shadow elements are being confronted and "contained" or worked with. Sure enough, Moore brings up the 12 step process as a promising place to look for this kind of work. I had been studying Jung and 12 step programs separately and felt very validated but not surprised to see that the origins of AA are intimately tied to Jung.  

Very excited to read this book and hope it comes in time for me to use some of it for my research paper which will need to be turned in during the next 3 weeks!

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