Rogers (1980) informed that an “element in our loneliness is the lack of any relationship in which we communicate our real experience…to another” (p. 166). When writing on the topic of how the addict may be interpreted within a society on July 8, 2012 – The Struggle Towards Compassion, my mind kept latching onto the notion of loneliness, or an isolation that can perpetuate in the addict’s life. From this earlier writing the quote I had focused on was from Mooney (2005) where he had stated “when all poor are undeserving, there is no need for public compassion;” a statement that appears to pull at both how the addict may be interpreted as undeserving and how such an experience can perpetuate loneliness (p. 140). The focus here is on the addict as opposed to those around the addict. I am seeking to acknowledge that from the engagement of addiction the addict may experience profound loneliness.
“The pain of addictive phenomena is quite consistent with the age-old and sometimes overarching human compulsion” (Naifeh, 1995, Introduction, para 9).
We are steering notions of how the addict might be viewed towards an understanding of what the addict may experience. The individual struggling with an addiction continues to relegate affect, the emotions associated with life experiences to the shadow. The addict is scripting a myth of dissociative states and the inability to withstand the angst when attempting to conceive life detached from the vexing paradigm of addiction. “Loneliness, has the potential of inducing disquiet. It implies a sense of having been abandoned, forsaken, exposed to need or danger…the painful quality of loneliness favors a tendency to shun it, or an urge to correct or counter it (Mendelson, 1990, para 3). In this loneliness, there is the notion of powerlessness; powerlessness that the addict is overcome by the addiction.
To admit powerlessness over the addiction, one must accept that the “addiction is something that goes beyond our conscious admission” (Narcotics Anonymous [N.A.] Fellowship, 1993, p. 11). To observe powerlessness within the conceptualization of addiction appears to not convey an issue of choice, but speaks to what might link “abstinence and the surrender to powerlessness” (Miller, 2002, p. 159). Throughout the week I had been unable to shake the term powerless; it became connected to a place of conceived and intense loneliness. The addict, the individual unable to maintain a sense of will is powerless, and this powerless individual may exists in isolation. “It seems reasonable to assume that no one escapes the experience of loneliness, sooner or later. And also that everyone senses, at least fleetingly, a reflex aversive response to the prospect of loneliness” (Mendelson, 1990, para 5).
Mendelson, M. (1990). Reflections on loneliness. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 26, Retrieved from http://pgi.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pph&AN=CPS.026.03300A&site=ehost-live&scope=site
Miller, D. (2002). Addictions and trauma recovery: An integrated approach. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 73(2), 157-170.
Mooney, G. (2005). Addictions and social compassion. Drug and Alcohol Review, 24, 137-141.
Naifeh, S. (1995). Archetypal foundations of addiction and recovery. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, 40(2), 133-159.
N. A. Fellowship. (1993). How it works and why. Van Nuys, CA: A. A. World Services.
Rogers, C. (1980). A way of being. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Erik J. Welsh, PhD
– Author of The Addiction Complex