The Psychosynthesis Treatment of Addictions
Addiction is a mental obsession that leads to a physical compulsion. Assagioli stated it succinctly in his first psychological law: “Images or mental pictures tend to produce the…external acts that correspond to them.”
The most common addiction is alcoholism. The person’s obsessive thoughts about alcohol activate the compulsion to consume alcohol. The mental obsession originates when the person discovers that alcohol relieves their vulnerability and makes them feel normal. The physical compulsion becomes extreme: if it were physically possible, the alcoholic person would never stop drinking. In Dante’s Inferno, Cerberus in the realm of gluttony is the precise picture of extreme compulsion.
Cocaine, heroin, anti-anxiety agents (e.g., Valium, Xanax), painkillers (e.g., Oxycontin, Vicodin) and other drugs can also become addictive. In addition, there are addictions without alcohol or drugs, including eating disorders, gambling, and sex addiction, which follow the same dynamic of obsession and compulsion. (For convenience, we will refer to alcohol and alcoholics as a way to discuss the dynamics and treatment of all addictions).
The immediate question presents itself: why does a person become obsessed with alcohol? Most people can enjoy alcohol without becoming obsessed. What makes the alcoholic different?
To answer this, we need to review the theoretical models of addiction.
By: Richard Schaub