Jung and Alcoholism and Drug Addiction

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Gary L. Clark is an author. After a thirty year career he retired to write a novel. He then joined a counselor-in-training program at the local community mental health center and worked three years as a substance abuse counselor. He retired again and has written two more novels. He recently completed the annotation of a self-help book on faith-based self-help. Two published novels (available on Amazon.com) address social justice. Mr. Clark is the Editor of thefiresidepost.com. He lives in St. Joseph, Missouri.

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Jung and Alcoholism and Drug Addiction

Carl Jung was a genius on the level of Albert Einstein.  Jung might say that he and Einstein were able to tap their unconscious and the collective unconscious for what appear to be ideas of the human imagination.  Jung’s work now defines an entire branch of modern psychology – in his lifetime he captured the greatest minds of his generation. We live in the fourth generation of Jungian psychotherapy.

As some of you know I worked thirty years in health care information systems, retired, wrote a novel,Anybody Seen My Glasses?

then joined a counselor-in-training program for Substance Abuse Counseling at the local community mental health center.  I worked three years as a Substance Abuse Counselor. I think of that time as a three year immersion in the world of substance abuse.  Many of my friends today are people in recovery.  But one friend is special.  We were friends during our formative years of adolescence.  He is now a psychotherapist in New Mexico with specialties in Jungian psychotherapy and alcohol and drug addiction.  Our common interest has prompted some lively emails debating therapeutic methods and even the definition of addiction.

I wrote recently:  Are you saying that alcoholism is the result of a complex, an elaborate connection (or disconnection) between the conscious and unconscious self.  I do not have his permission to use his name so I will just refer to him as he.  He responded and the following is copied from his email:  (forgive him for any misdirected grammar or misspelling – this was a personal email, not intended for public consumption):

Right!! —-
That is exactly what alcoholism is —–a complex!!!!!!!   Read in Psychological Types (I think you have that book) on page 528—–
Alcoholism/Drug addiction is a clinical symptom; the symptom is that the client has lost conscious rational control of his intake of alcohol and drugs!!!
“…….the phenomenology of the psyche brings into view those psychic processes in the background which underlie the clinical symptoms.  (alcoholism)  As is generally known, this knowledge is obtained by the application of analytical methods.  We have today a working knowledge of the psychic processes (complexes) that produce psychogenic symptoms  (alcoholism) , and have thus laid the the foundations for a theory of complexes.  Whatever else may be taking place in the obscure recesses of the psyche—and there are notoriously many opinions about this—ONE THING IS CERTAIN (my caps):  it is the complexes (emotionally-toned contents having a certain amount of AUTONOMY) which play the most important part here.”
Note:  This is why I call alcoholism a demon,  the person is possessed by a demon or complex that is  AUTONOMOUS!!!  in other words it is a separate entity, or god that controls us.  I digress……
“The term autonomous complex” has often met with opposition, unjustifiably, it seems to me, because the active contents of the unconscious do behave in a way I cannot describe better than the word “autonomous”.
Note:  this brings to mind your story of a man leaving an AA meeting but becoming obsessed or possessed by the intense urge to drink—-that is being in the grips of a “complex”, “god”, or “demon”.  digression again.
“The term is meant to indicate the capacity of the complexes TO RESIST CONSCIOUS INTENTIONS!!!! (my caps and emphasis) AND TO COME AND GO AS THEY PLEASE!!!!”
NOTE:  this is the same as moods, anxiety, depression.
“Judging by all we know about them, they are psychic entities which are outside the control of the conscious mind.  They have been split off from consciousness and lead a separate existence in the dark realm of the unconscious, being at all times ready to hinder or reinforce the conscious functioning.  (the addiction doing pushups in the corner waiting for addicts to have a drink)
Jung is so brilliant (there I go again)
So, yes it is about an imbalance between our conscious and unconscious self.  With recovery from addiction it is important to constantly make the unconscious conscious.  That is why meetings or group therapy is so powerful because alcoholics make conscious and talk about things in the darkness of our unconscious and bring them into the room to take much of their power away.
Alcohol/drug addiction has its physical aspects—the brain needs 2 years of abstinence to heal—-but, in my opinion—the physical aspect cannot be divorced from the deeper spiritual or unconscious aspects which need to be addressed also.  Actually, eating disorders, compulsive gambling, sexual addiction (and tobacco) physically alter the structure of the brain cells and neurotransmitter production also.
Well…….. you are right that abstinence from substances is a must.  However, in obesity, gambling, sex addiction the person must abstain from binge eating, any gambling behavior and compulsive sex or the brain will not heal also.
Well – what do you think?

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