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

ORDER the Book

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

Hi, more to come. Looking forward to sharing with you in the next few weeks.  David Schoen

Hi David. Welcome! So glad to have you with us for the month of January to kick off the new year.

Everyone: While David's learning the ropes here and getting ready to post his introduction, we are excited to invite to you live weekly teleseminars with David throughout the month.

The first one will take place next Wednesday, January 9 at 5pm PT/8pm ET so mark your calendars and I'll post the registration/dial-in info here shortly. There will be three more following that one each Wednesday at the same time through January 30. We're looking forward to having the teleseminar discussions supported by online discussion.

If you haven't bought the book, do it now so you'll be ready. You can get it here, among other places.

Hi everyone, and welcome to the official start of the January Book Club with "War of the Gods in Addiction." David Schoen has graciously agreed to offer the teleseminars and to monitor this online written forum even though he self-admittedly is quite challenged with online operations.

Given that, I will do my best to aid the process by making his posts--though he'll be reading, reviewing, and responding to all your questions and comments both here and especially in the 4-week teleseminar series which starts Jan. 9. It would be really helpful if the discussion here takes on an interactive tone early on where you (we) all respond to each others comments and posts and not rely on him in between, so please take the plunge! Meanwhile, here is David's introductory post:

Hi. My name is David Schoen. I am a clinical social worker, have an extensive background in chemical dependency, addictions issues, and I’m also a Jungian analyst. I received my Jungian training through the interregional society of Jungian analysts. So that’s my background. I also have family members who are recovering alcoholics through AA and the 12 steps which saved their lives which is tremendously personally significant to me.

In writing the book I drew from the Carl Jung / Bill W correspondence of 1961, which basically is the template for my book in terms of the psychodynamics of addiction. This week and leading up to our first teleseminar on January 9 (5pm PT/8pm ET), I would like you to read the first section on the Carl Jung / Bill W. letters which is up to page 19 and we could discuss that. I would be very interested in your thoughts, comments, and questions.

I would also mention that the title of the Book, as you know, is “The War of the Gods in Addiction” and a live discussion of this is available through the teleseminar I’m hosting each Wednesday in January on Depth Psychology Alliance. I hope you’ll post comments, questions, and discussion amongst yourselves here as well. I look forward to engaging with you. Thank you. ~David Schoen

First I want to thank you creating this riveting Jungian/AA work. It has brought a lot of personal shadows and experiences to light. I'm excited about what the discussion threads will produce.
My first discussion point is about the "need" for a religious conversion in order to overcome the overwhelming power of the addiction. I can identify with this concept, however, it also raises questions as to whether we as individuals "need" a belief in a higher power in order to individualize. There is also discussion later in your book about AA being more effective for non-believers. Can you provide some additional context around the archetypal basis/need for a god relationship? In particular, if a spiritual conversion is necessary for combating the addictive state, how does the conversion work with those of faith or those returning after relapse?
"An ordinary man not protected by action above and isolated by society cannot resist the power of evil, which is called aptly the devil." (Carl Jung letter)


Tom: Thanks for writing and for your thoughtful questions. Regarding the conversion experience, a religious belief in a traditional sense is not required but its helpful. The crucial issue is not really the object of conversion, but the deflating of the addicted ego. Just admitting powerless over addiction is the first step. Ultimately one must--in Jungian terms--relativize the ego in relation to the Self—(the “big S” Self)—which is ultimately what Jung means by spiritual which may or may not be traditionally religious. The ultimate conversion works through grace, fellowship, and the Steps.

What I meant about non-believers was that my book explains why AA works through a psychodynamic explanation which non-AA believers can relate to on a more scientific basis. It is necessary to neutralize the archetypal evil /archetypal shadow element of the addiction.


David. Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I have not been thru the AA 12 step program, however I have been through Reborn Christian conversion and consequently, i fully understand the power available to deflate the ego and realign with the Self. I will continue to integrate your response with the remainder of the book. Thank you again, Tom
Bonnie, I just found out about this teleseminar and ordered the book this morning. I don't have the call in information yet and am at a loss, frankly, how to go about asking for it. Please post when you can. Judi Shoemaker

Hi everyone. FYI, if you're participating here in the Book Club this month and are planning to join David for the 4-week teleseminar series, the access info for tonight, Week 1, is here: http://www.depthinsights.com/pages/teleconference-instructions.html Please don't hesitate to  let me know if you have any questions, and enjoy the event!

I enjoyed the session though tried several times to ask a question (once when i thought i was unmuted, once the other way and neither worked.  perhaps others were having same problem.  AA's founders and AA members today speak of alcoholism as a disease and not an Archetypal Evil. I think to do so would create an uproar since we try to keep everything focused on the new recovering alcoholic who'd probably dash for the door if we did. What applicability does David feel this concept has for AA members? is it something just for the Jungian analyst working with alcoholics?  I'd also like to hear his thoughts on AA's central theme of one alcoholic working with another alcoholic as key to the program and where the Jungian analyst comes in on all this.

Hi Karen. Now THAT's a bummer. I'll revisit that testy console and make sure I have the technology down for next week. I appreciate your patience and your readiness to jump in. Luckily, several other participants were able to ask their questions and I really appreciated the discussion.

Meanwhile, I think the question you bring up here about the core terminology--"disease" vs. "archetypal evil"--is compelling. What do others think?

Hi Karen.  I'm an alcoholic and have worked the steps a number of times.  My experience in  AA has been at times very frustrating because I love soul work and am a natural seeker.  The program's primary purpose is to help alcoholics achieve sobriety.  Sobriety and a deep understanding of how one arrived at this destination of addiction are two different things.  I experienced the focus on a 'disease' to be cured as a means to keep people coming back and not shaming them.  It gives the rational mind an answer, some explanation as to 'why me?'.  In the end, the answer does not matter, just the action and commitment taken by the alcoholic to change.  The demographics of alcoholics are as variable as anywhere else and this means most aren't versed in psychological vocabulary, and archetypal work.  It was hard for me to hang close to the program because I rarely found the depth of questions and answers that I was looking.  I had to go outside of the program to satisfy my need on this level.  That said, the beauty of the program is entire thing is a 'suggestion' and you can make it what you like.  For me this meant finding groups of people I resonated the most with, and moreover individuals with which I could work one on one with.  Working with other alcoholics has a number of functions.  1. it puts the focus on something other than yourself, so the obsessive mind gripped by thoughts of using, gets a rest and one stays sober longer 2. it helps to neutralize the addictive ego by helping the individual realize they are not alone or unique (addiction seems to produce narcissism and feelings of superior uniqueness and therefore allows that ego to deny help and remain in charge) 3. it helps to integrate shadow - there is nothing like seeing another's addiction and shadow so plainly at work and then realizing  'hey that's me too'.    I'm not sure where an analyst comes inserts in all of this (I am not one) but simple understanding of the addict experience is invaluable. 

4. working with others also allows one to benchmark progress on shadow integration and helps to bring awareness to shadow pieces yet to be integrated


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