Sigmund Freud

When I think of Freud in relation to addictive behavior, the id, ego, and superego come to mind. The id is hedonistic--sleazy, fun-loving and pleasure seeking. The id says, "John, use that money to buy bag of dope and then share it with her. You'll surely get laid for your generosity." The superego is the id's opposite--the holier-than-thou doppelganger with impeccable moral and ethical standards. The superego counters the id, saying "John, you must not betray your inner goodness. That dope is evil, and using her in that way is immoral. The ego (our conscious self) is the mediator. The ego might say, "I believe I'll compromise. I get the bag of dope and forget her. That leaves more dope for me anyway." I like Freud's analogy; in fact, many other theorists do too, they just clothe it in different terminology.

Concerning sexuality, Freud felt we are driven by the pleasure principle. He put much emphasis on this. In some ways I agree with him, but not to the extreme he does. After all, continuing the species is innate; therefore, sexuality is innate. Freud takes some of his theories out to left field. For example, Ferris (1997) tells us that "in 1897 he had confided his view to Fliess that all addictions, to alcohol, morphine, tobacco or anything else, were only substitutes for the ‘primary addiction', masturbation" (p. 342.). A strange thing for a man to say who was addicted to morphine and cocaine, unless . . .

Freudian theory says we have defense mechanisms used by the ego to ward off threats from the id, superego, or the external world, and therefore reduces the corresponding anxiety. I concur, for during my addiction I used a few of them myself.

Freud regards religion as extremely harmful to the individual and to society. He said that since people are indoctrinated with religion during childhood, before they are able to apply reason to the whole issue, they become dependent on its narcotizing effects. Freud (1961) also said that "a believer is bound to the teachings of religion by certain ties of affection (p. 59).

Overall I agree that Freud was a pathological mess; however, his contributions of the unconscious, dream interpretation, psychoanalysis, defense mechanisms, only to mention a few, are indispensable to the evolution of psychology. He was a major influence.

Carl Jung

As a protégé of Freud, some of Jung's theories were considered outlandish: the occult, ESP, alchemy, and the myth of flying saucers; therefore, in ways, his theories were even more controversial than Freud's, and easy to dismiss as absurd and unscientific. Personally, I think it's the other way around, but that's because I am a Jungian psychologist. I've had a lot of course work espousing Jungian theories, but I wasn't exposed enough to the occult to make an objective opinion. I wouldn't categorize flying saucers as myth, like many people do; the way I see it, it's absurd to think that human beings are the most intelligent life form in the universe capable of space travel.

As with all the theorists discussed here, the scope of this work cannot touch on everything that they're credited with, especially Freud and Jung. The collected works of Jung consist of 22 volumes, and that's not all of it.

Jung's theory of the archetypes (the collective unconscious) is where I focused my doctoral research. My dissertation is entitled Scumbag sewer rats: Criminalized male drug addicts and the trickster archetype. In that work I also expound on the archetype of the puer aeternus (Latin for eternal boy). To read my work on the archetypes, go to my website @

When considering the breadth of his writing, I was and still am struck by the practical wisdom of the following words by Jung (1953): "anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to put away his scholar's gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart through the world. There, in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells [sic], in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, Socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than text- books a foot think could give him" (Jung, 1953, p. 244 [CW 7, para. 409]).

Alfred Adler

Another protégé of Freud's, Adler preferred practical recommendations for dealing with one's problems, bringing up children, getting along with others, and upgrading the quality of life in general. He also argues that people have an innate potential for relating to others. This social interest involves more than membership in a particular group. It refers to a sense of kinship with humanity, and it enables our species to survive through cooperation.

I agree that if one fails to give a child sufficient care and attention, it creates the belief that the world is a cold and unfriendly place. And what better way to set the stage for a defense mechanism that can often endure for the rest of their lives after its onset. Among others, addiction often serves as a defense mechanism, shielding the pain and suffering of the insufficient care and attention during childhood.

A lifestyle can be revealed by a person's physical movements: always leaning on something may reflect dependency and a need for protection. Slouching, trembling, remaining a distance from other people, avoiding eye contact, or sleeping in a fetal position may indicate cowardly tendencies. Body language is a language, a communication. We see this with addicts, in the way they carry themselves. Now anybody can spot the obvious ones whose heads are shaved, have facial hair, and are sporting tatoos and/or various body piercings. I'm talking about a subtle look that usually only other addicts can detect. And the same goes with jointsters (ex- cons)--they wear certain characteristics, and other jointsters can spot it regardless of how hard they try to conceal it.

Adler (1964) says that "neurosis originates in the first few years of life, influenced by such factors as pampering. Pampered people are not in good repute. They never were. Parents are not fond of being accused of pampering. The spoiled person himself refuses to be regarded as such. Again and again a doubt occurs as to what we mean by pampering. But, as though by intuition, everyone feels it as a burden and an obstacle to proper development" (p. 144). I disagree--maybe some neuroses originate in the first few years of life, but many develop later. For example, neuroses stemming from substance abuse comes later in life.

Karen Horney

Horney, yet another protégé of Freud, says that neurotics sell their souls to the devil by abandoning their real desires and capacities in favor of the idealized image. Lending myself as an example that I'm sure all addicts can identify with to some degree, is the idealized image of being cool. As we were growing up, most of us wanted to be a policeman, fireman, school teacher, whatever. However, at some point we were impressed by someone who was cool, and it was then that something happened that later turned into an addictive personality, often starting with the coolness associated with smoking cigarettes. Yes, I'm saying that for many, cigarettes are a gateway to chemical substances, sometimes sooner, but usually later in life.

Horney (1967) defines the neurotic need for love succinctly: "While it is important to the healthy person to be loved, honored, and esteemed by those whom he esteems or on whom he is dependent, the neurotic need for love is compulsive and indiscriminate" (p. 246.). In support of her contention, it's my contention that the prevention of a neurotic need for love is contingent on how much love was lavished on one during their childhood years.

Horney believed that patients may expect great gains from psychotherapy without having to work at their problems. I've found this to be true in the recovery process from addiction. Many addicts enter the recovery process to improve their neurotic behavior associated with their addiction, but they want to do it without having to change.

While at the same time I feel that psychoanalysis is affective, I also concur with Horney when she encourages patients to engage in self-analysis. She warns that an overemphasis on childhood events may encourage patients to wallow in the memory of past hurts, thereby rationalizing their failure to work at the task of therapy. Also, patients actively defend their neurotic solutions, in my case addiction, and deny the existence of their inner conflicts, avoid the frightening prospect of change, and cling to the only apparently successful mode of adjustment that they have ever known. It was definitely easier for me to take a fix or get drunk than to deal with life in any other way.

Erich Fromm

Positive growth of a child is facilitated by parents who are warm, affectionate, and nonthreatening. But if the sense of self-reliance should be damaged by pathogenic parental behaviors, the child is likely to sacrifice its innate healthy potentials and seek to escape. I said the same thing in different words in response to Horney's neurotic need for love, which was also saying the same thing. Pathogenic parental behaviors include pessimism, joylessness, narcissism, rigidity, necrophilia, and physical abuse. And I'll add drug addiction to that list.

Fromm says that loving parents are the exception, rather than the rule. It is a nauseating and staggering statistic that 95% of the families in this country are dysfunctional in some way. Of course, how the word dysfunctional is defined can alter those statistics considerably.

The goal of a psychologist is not to define and treat a set of symptoms, but to understand the neurotic character and the resulting difficulties in living. It's like going to 12-step meetings, we don't go there only to find out how not to drink or use, which is what is commonly believed. I spent thirty-two years practicing my addiction; therefore, I found that to recover, I had to unlearn old coping strategies learn how to live anew.

As Fromm (1976) points out, "Our judgements are extremely biased because we live in a society that rests on private property, profit, and power as the pillars of its existence. To acquire, to own, and to make a profit are the sacred and unalienable rights of the individual in an industrial society. What the sources of property are does not matter; nor does possessing impose any obligations on the property owners. The principle is: Where and how my property was acquired or what I do with it is nobody's business but my own; as long as I do not violate the law, my right is unrestricted and absolute" (p. 69). It is a shame, but this, for the most part, is the way our society is. I'm thankful that material possessions do not take top priority in my life. I'd rather "Be" than "Have."

Harry Stack Sullivan

‘Malevolent transformation' is a distortion or warp in personality development, resulting in the irrational belief that other people are enemies and have no tenderness or love to give, caused by insufficient maternal tenderness and excessive parental hostility, irritability, and anxiety during the childhood stage. This is the same thing that Horney and Fromm say, but clothed in different words.

Lundin (1991) considers Sullivan's idea of the ‘self-system' an organized perception of one's own self, including the desirable "good-me" and undesirable "bad-me." Results from experiences with one's body and the reflected opinions of significant others, has the primary goal of reducing anxiety. The security operations of the self-system also create the impression that we differ more from others than is actually the case (a delusion of unique individuality), and may even result in a grandiose self-personification somewhat like the Adlerian superiority complex (p. 337-338). From my experience, I can say that grandiosity is typical of many addicts I have associated with, not to mention the many I was merely acquainted with.

Sullivan says that psychotherapy is primarily a form of education, rather than a medically- oriented "cure." I also see it that way. It takes the "psychotherapist" off the pedestal.

Erik Erikson

Another protégé of Freud, Erikson was only a mediocre student, and he never earned a university degree of any kind, but his credibility is well established with one of the most widely accepted models of human development.

Although Erikson retains Freud's structural model, he also cautions against such concepts as id, ego, and superego. He stresses that these are designed to facilitate the discussion and understanding of personality, rather than establish entities located within the psyche.

Erikson remarks that the identity crisis proves to be so troublesome that neither a primarily positive or negative identity can be achieved, the individual may reject the demands of adulthood and extend the adolescent stage well past the appropriate age. This remark is clothing the problem of the puer aeternus with his own words. For more on the puer, go to my website @ then click on the page entitled Ezine Articles. The addict is the puer incarnate. Describing addicts, Nakken (1988) also describes the puer when he says that "Adolescents live for the moment. Practicing addicts also live for the moment, using emotional logic. Emotionally, addicts act like adolescents and are often described as adolescent in behavior and attitude. After all, a lot of issues that addicts struggle with are the same that face adolescents. The difference is that addicts stay trapped in adolescence as long as their illness is in progress" (p. 16).

"To Erikson, adolescence is not an affliction," says Roazen, (1976) "but a normative crisis, i.e., a normal phase of increased conflict characterized by a seeming fluctuation in ego strength as well as by a high growth potential" (p. 90).

Erikson was one of the first analysts to treat children, devising valuable techniques of play therapy. He did stray a little from Freud when seeking to avoid some potential biases in Freudian therapy by using face-to-face interviews, rejecting transference neurosis, and avoiding a preoccupation with the patient's past.

The identity crisis, play therapy, his study of psychosocial influences on personality development, and his prize-winning study of Gandhi are his biggest contributions.

Gordon W. Allport

Allport believed that most adult motives consist of cognitive processes that are relatively independent of biological drives; for example, Kamikaze pilots during World War II followed the manifestly unpleasurable course of sacrificing their lives for their country. Instances like these lead Allport to conclude that much of adult behavior cannot be explained in terms of drive reduction.

Allport is the first theorist who devised a written questionnaire to measure such constructs as values. Values are important and make up quite a bit of who we are. Recovering addicts need to unlearn most of their old values and develop a whole new set of them, or recapture the ones that were hopefully instilled during their early development.

Allport describes the personality in terms of traits: friendliness, ambitiousness, cleanliness, enthusiasm, seclusiveness, punctuality, shyness, talkativeness, dominance, submissiveness, generosity, prejudice, and so forth. He estimates that there are some 4,000 to 5,000 traits and 18,000 trait names.

Allport (1954) justifies the normality of prejudgment: Everywhere on earth we find a condition of separateness among groups. People mate with their own kind. They eat, play, reside in homogeneous clusters. They visit with their own kind, and prefer to worship together. Much of this automatic cohesion is due to nothing more than convenience. There is no need to turn to out- groups for companionship. With plenty of people at hand to choose from, why create for ourselves the trouble of adjusting to new languages, new foods, new cultures, or to people of a different educational level? It requires less effort to deal with people who have similar presuppositions (p. 17). This may have been more widely accepted in 1954, and it's not nonexistent today, but with widespread issues concerning diversity and multi-cultural relations , Allport's stand on prejudgement today isn't as relevant.

The healthy individual usually confronts the various difficulties in life and is guided by motives that are conscious, flexible, and autonomous. But the neurotic or psychotic, whose predisposition for normal development has been blocked by pathogenic influences, escapes important problems through self-deceiving defense mechanisms and is dominated by motives that are unconscious, compulsive, and childish. As a result, the pathological individual is too self-centered and fearful to achieve the balanced give and take required for meaningful interpersonal relationships. Here's the puer again wrapped in Allport clothing. Or, I guess you could say, here's Allport's theory wrapped in puer clothing.

Carl R. Rogers

A person will resort to various distortions and denials [as in addiction]. But in the safety of the therapeutic situation, also in A.A. meetings, he or she is able to accept these anxiety- provoking aspects of experience, realize that it is the self-concept that must be changed, and reorganize it appropriately.

I acknowledge this in my doctoral dissertation, and touch on it in the abstract, which is available at my website @ I state there that it is my contention that the general public, the mental health profession, the American judicial system, and criminalized male drug addicts themselves are struck with a social paradigmatic attitude toward criminalized male drug addicts that characterizes them as dirty, rotten, scumbag sewer rats.

Rogers' (1970) work on encounter groups, and the following quote is quite illustrative of what I've found true in AA meetings: "Closely allied with the foregoing is the need for encounter groups to bridge the so-called generation gap. In groups where there has been a wide spread of age, it has not been found that these age differences are of any significance once the group process really begins to operate" (p. 141).

What Ewen (1988) says concerning Rogers, is that a constructive therapeutic relationship depends in part on the client perceiving the therapist as genuine, or in touch with his or her own inner experience and able to share it when appropriate. To withhold one's self as a person and to deal with the client as an object does not have a high probability of being helpful. It does not help to act calm and pleasant when actually I am angry and critical. It does not help to act as though I know the answers when I don't. It doesn't help to try to maintain any facade, to act in one way on the surface when I am experiencing something different underneath. Instead, I have found that the more that I can be genuine in the relationship, the more helpful it will be. This means that I need to be aware of my own feelings, in so far as possible, and willing to express them" (p. 386).

Depth psychology leans heavily on mythological motifs. For example, if psychotherapists behave in too dignified a way in therapy, then how can they help the many clients who come to the therapist in the first place to discuss the undignified aspects of their lives. Only the undignified Hermes exemplified in the therapist can constellate a communication with the undignified side of life and can evaluate hermetically what has been reported as undignified. And so it is with addicts who are seeking recovery. Addicts will not cooperate with a therapist who doesn't have at least some kind of emotional tie with addiction. Preferably the therapist is a recovered addict.

Abraham H. Maslow

Maslow's self-actualization, according to Goble (1970), "is prominent only in older people. The young are more concerned with issues like education, identity, love, and work, which Maslow regards as preparing to live. As self-actualized people are usually sixty years of age or more, most people do not belong in this category; they are not static, they have not arrived; they are moving toward maturity. The actualization process means the development or discovery of the true self and the development of existing or latent potential" (pp. 24, 25). Maslow, therefore, refers to the needs of self-actualizing individuals as metaneeds, among which are a love of beauty, truth, goodness, justice, and usefulness. Self-actualizing individuals have strong moral and ethical standards.

As a depth psychologist, I have internalized the same ideas, but clothed in the language of depth psychology. Self actualization translates into Individuation, the goal in Jungian psychoanalysis: Individuation is a process informed by the archetypal ideal of wholeness, which in turn depends on a vital relationship between ego and unconscious. The aim is not to overcome one's personal psychology or to become perfect. Thus individuation involves an increasing awareness of one's unique psychological reality, including personal strengths and limitations, and at the same time a deeper appreciation of humanity.

Rollo May

Each of us has an inherent need to exist in the world into which we are born, and to achieve a conscious and unconscious sense of ourselves as an autonomous and distinct entity. The stronger this being-in-the-world or "Dasein," the healthier the personality. According to May our dynamic being-in-the-world comprises three interrelated modes: biological drives (Umwelt), relationship to others (Mitwelt), and the affirmation of one's self and values (Eigenwelt) (p. 128).

May accepts Freud's contention that paying for one's therapy helps to overcome difficulties; if a person doesn't benefit from therapy when he pays for it, he'll most likely benefit less if it's given to him. This contradicts the success of 12-step programs, for it is their credo that," We can't keep it unless we give it away."

B. F. Skinner

Skinner (1974) explains that a newborn baby knows how to cry, suckle, and sneeze. We say that a child knows how to walk and how to ride a tricycle. The evidence is simply that the baby and child exhibit the behavior specified. Moving from verb to noun, we say that they possess knowledge, and the evidence is that they possess behavior. It is in this sense that we say that people thirst for, pursue, and acquire knowledge (p. 137). This is a description of behaviorism broken down to its fundamental basics.

Skinner ‘is' behaviorism; however, he did think that different techniques should be used with those problems for which they are especially well suited, such as: desensitization for a fear of examinations, assertive training for a client inhibited with members of the opposite sex, or various procedures in combination. These variations of treatment are limited to behavior therapy.

Skinner attributes religious belief primarily to an accident of birth, namely the conditioning imposed by one's parents, or by the religious school to which they belong. Many religions try to control behavior by claiming some connection with supernatural forces, which presumably punish behaviors defined by the religion as immoral (as with the threat of Hell) and reward behaviors defined as moral (as with the promise of Heaven). When sinful behavior is in fact emitted, these religions offer powerful reinforcement in the form of absolution. Other religions do not appeal to the supernatural, and simply reinforce with approval those behaviors that they deem to be virtuous, like the "Golden Rule." But whatever the form, religion is to Skinner, and Freud, and myself, for I agree completely, merely another example of behavior control through conditioning.

John Dollard and Neal E. Miller

Cohen (1977) states that the more we learn about the brain, the more we appreciate that it is one of the most wonderful miracles in the universe. To try to understand the brain is an infinitely challenging goal worthy of Man's highest humanistic and aesthetic aspirations. This quest does not need to be justified by any practical social consequences, although it certainly has them. None of the people I know who are enamored with trying to understand the brain are concerned with what to do with their leisure time, or plagued with boredom, a sense of futility or the meaninglessness of their existence" (p. 241). I suppose this, among other things, is why I study psychology.

The researcher, in Dollard's (1937) opinion, cannot always be sure that the book he starts to write is the one that will be given him to finish. My original plan was to study the personality of Negroes in the South, to get a few life histories, and to learn something about the manner in which the Negro person grows up. It was far from my wish to make a study of a community, to consider the intricate problem of the cultural heritage of the Negro, or to deal with the emotional structure of a specific small town in the deep South. I was compelled, however, to study the community, for the individual life is rooted in it" (p. 1). I've included this because I identify with it so much. During the course of my writing, this phenomenon has repeatedly surfaced. In my doctoral studies I started writing about the puer, and ended with a dissertation written primarily about the trickster, both of which, however, relate to addicts.

To some psychologists, Dollard and Miller's attempted rapprochement between behaviorism and psychoanalysis contains much interest and importance. Thus they have been praised for emphasizing and clarifying two particularly important variables, anxiety and conflict, and for their non-metaphysical definition of repression.

Albert Bandura:

Bandura is highly critical of the extent to which television and other media portray violent behavior, since these are all too likely to serve as models (especially in the case of children). I couldn't agree more and there's no shortage of research substantiating his position. I'd bet my little finger that the reason rests on the money it generates, for one--at the box office. Thus, he urges such controls as a privately funded board that would try to sway public opinion against media violence, and in favor of programs that are nonviolent and informative, such as the well- known Sesame Street. I agree; in fact, much more than just children is being influenced by the violence portrayed on television: Bandura brought children into a laboratory and had them observe an adult repeatedly hit an inflated Bobo doll about three feet tall. Bandura wondered to what extent the children would copy the adult's behavior. The children did copy the adults's behavior extensively, and many of them, I'm certain, took that behavior into adulthood with them.

James Hillman

Hillman is a psychologist and is considered to be one of the most original thinkers of the 20th century. He trained at the Jung Institute in Zurich under Jung, and subsequently developed archetypal psychology. Hillman is a prolific writer (I personally have 32 of his books). His magnum opus, Re-visioning Psychology, was written in 1975 and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He is also an international lecturer and a private practitioner in Jungian analysis. For more on Hillman, go to

The Soul's Code was on the New York Time's best seller list. Though it's a difficult read, once I plowed through it, I came out of it with a knowledge about myself and my 30 years of addiction that I probably would have gone my entire life without knowing. This knowledge was gleaned from his ‘acorn theory,' which proposes that each life is formed by a particular image (which he calls the daimon), an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny, just as the mighty oak's destiny is written in the tiny acorn.


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Dollard, J. (1937). Caste and class in a southern town. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin.

Ewen, R. (1988). Theories of personality. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum. Ferris, P. (1997. Dr. Freud: A life. Washington, DC: Counterpoint. Freud, S. (1961). The future of an illusion. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Fromm, E. (1976). To have or to be. New York: Harper & Row.

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Lundin, R. (1991).Theories and systems of psychology. Lexington, Massachusetts: D.C. Heath. May, R (1967). Psychology and the human dilemma. New York: W. W. Norton. Nakken, C. (1988). The addictive personality. San Francisco: Harper & Row. Roazen, P. (1976). The power and limits of a vision. London: Collier Macmillan. Rogers, C. (1970). Carl Rogers on encounter groups. New York: Harper & Row. Skinner, B. F. (1974). About behaviorism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Author's Bio: 

After 40 arrests, five formal probations, four country jail sentences, and a prison term (as a result of chemical dependency), I turned my life around. I was released from prison in Dec 1989, and have been clean and sober since. I started at Barstow College in Feb 1990. Received my AA degree in '92 from Barstow College in Barstow, CA; BA in '94 from Chapman University in Orange CA; MHS in 98 from National University in San Diego CA, and finished with a Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA in Feb 2004. I have taught as an adjunct instructor for Park University and Barstow College. I can be contacted through my website