The fundamental opposition to any form of recuperation from craving is the addiction itself , which infiltrates the addict’s self and varies his perspective and judgement in a mode congenial to itself and hostile to any form of recuperation. Whatever is or may become a threat to the addiction is typically targeted, devalued, and when possible, destroyed. Because this twisting and subversion of the real ego takes home largely outside the addict’s consciousness he is usually powerless to defy it. Shortage capacities necessary to separate himself( his true self) from his addiction( his addicted self) he falsely am of the opinion that his thinking is free and unfettered when it reality it is wholly subservient to the requirements of his addiction. In a sense it might even be said that it is the addiction that is doing his thinking for him, though of course he does not recognize this and would defiantly deny it if presented with it. There is a terrible incongruity in the characteristic defiant individualism of the addict- for there is nothing at all individual about the stereotyped biological process of craving, and the defiance that is commonly encountered during active addicts has almost nothing to do with their true-life selves and what is good for them but with their false-hearted selves and what is good for the addiction.” Devote me liberty or give me demise ,” for the active junkie, really intends” Give me my addiction or give me fatality ,”- and even, at times,” Give me my craving even if it makes my extinction !”
Because the active junkie understands the world through the eyes of his addiction he necessarily notices those things that are favorable to his continuance of his addiction and he neglects or actively negates those that are not . This psychological fact alone practically guarantees that a well-known recuperation method such as AA will one way or another be found wanting by the alcoholic to whom it has been recommended. Except under ideal and unfortunately exceptional circumstances, i.e. when the alcoholic had really and conclusively ”ve had enough” and is therefore willing to do whatever it takes to recover from his alcoholism, the active alcoholic can be expected and predicted to aversion and avoid AA meetings for the simple and obvious reason that such meetings pose a formidable threat to the survival and progression of his addiction. The same might be and in fact is true of any method of convalescence from alcoholism, e.g. inpatient or outpatient reclamation programs. The disadvantage under which all such potential interventions proletariat in the mind of the drinking alcoholic reflects the fact that they aim to interfere with his booze and have some history of success in doing so for others! Therefore, unless ”hes in” a desperate and thus remarkably receptive nation, he escapes them more carefully than he sometimes seems to avoid the risk of his own fatality from the complications and accidental hardships of his alcoholism.( One is sometimes reminded of the age-old movie vampires, hissing and shrinking from the Cross, by the way urgently ill alcoholics in need or care or AA flee in anxiety and loathing from the very things that can help them, even save their lives. Could it perhaps be not the person or persons but the disease that has, vampire-like, overpowered and enslaved him which fears and thus attempts to hide from everything that might save the person or persons by harming the disease ?)
This general resist to anything that might threaten the craving forms the foundation upon which more precise and localized resists remainder and from which they glean their strength and, as it were,” take their orders .” Resistance to recovery from addiction is a complex and highly adaptive( for the craving , not for its host !) dynamic process that draws upon the complete resources of the ego and engages all of the ingenuity and invention of the person to protect the craving and to stymie recuperation. Specific obstacles and resist to convalescence include dread, reproach, shame, dishonour, stupidity, grandiosity and repudiation. All of these roadblocks to recovery from addiction are commonly involved in the remarkably stereotyped aversion to AA attendance manifested by the typical alcoholic to whom such attendance is recommended by sidekicks, clas, or medical professionals.
Simple fear of the unknown is a significant, often a principal taken into account in resist to AA attendance . It requires great courage -or great desperation- for an alcoholic individual to walk into an AA meeting for the first time. Many alcoholics have transient or ongoing anxiety disorders which add to the natural fright links with such a brand-new experience. Although some people are able to identify and acknowledge their dread, many are not. Male alcoholics especially may be ashamed of their anxiety and hence deny it, focusing instead upon any number of largely dishonest rationalizations or red herrings to justify their AA avoidance. Shame and embarrassment are nearly universal answers of alcoholics to the prospect of attending an AA meeting. To show up at an AA meeting, after all, makes a proclamation to all who are present, but also and more importantly to oneself that he is or might be an alcoholic who has been unable to solve his drinking difficulty by himself. There are actually at the least two distinct sources of reproach and stigma here:( 1) that there has been a serious problem with alcohol, and( 2) that private individuals requires or that he even might necessity AA to deal with the problem.
The interesting and very significant fact is that drinking alcoholics themselves are among the most intolerant and intransigent reviewers of the so-called medical framework of alcoholism. The vast majority of boozing alcoholics consider alcohol troubles as matters of will power and moral values. Alcoholics, in other words, before they get sober, seldom understand or have any respect for alcoholics – a Dilemna that certainly complicates and stymie their own chances of convalescence from alcoholism. Thus what ought to be an occasion for healthy dignity and self-congratulation- being honest with oneself about an alcohol question and taking appropriate action to overcome it- more often than not feels to the alcoholic thinking about attending his first AA meeting like an enormous and almost unbearable personal los and something itself to be ashamed and guilty about.
Because in the majority of cases the alcoholic’s cup of dishonor and remorse runneth over, i.e. is becoming too intensive and painful for him to accept, the psychological defense mechanism of psychotic projection commonly steps in to externalize and thus interval his feelings of self-loathing and self-condemnation. By projecting his negative impressions about himself onto others he at least removes them one step from himself and can say to himself” It is not I who loathe and denounce myself, it is those other people who adjudicator or are due to magistrate me negatively .”
Paranoid projection permits the alcoholic to gain a sense of command by fully participate in defiant-oppositional action against an imaginary external antagonist and likewise to take avoidance precautions by simply standing away from situations in which “They” might assure and judge him. All of this of course gravely impairs and in many instances interdicts alone the formation of trusting and supportive relations necessary for recuperation from alcoholism. Newcomer to AA meetings are sometimes so terrified of” running into somebody they are aware” at a gather that they will wander far across city or even to another city to attempt to avoid what is for them the scaring prospect of being investigated at a meeting by someone who they fear could broadcast their awful and atrocious secret to the world . This fright of spotting is a projection onto imaginary other persons of their own intense sensations of shame and self-disgust. Unfortunately for the alcoholic in need of the help that AA can provide, the most wonderful and simplest lane to avoid being viewed, talked about and condemned by “Them” is to stay as far gone as possible from “Them,” namely from the vicinity of an AA meeting where “They” are certain to notification and talk unfavorably about one. And this in fact is the usual and customary psychotic phobic-avoidance protection most shame- and guilt- ridden alcoholics utilize. But what seems to them the safer and easier track is in reality the harder and more deadly one: for by scaping healthy and emotionally corrective suffers with other people who have also struggled with alcohol problems, the frightened and self-despising alcoholic is isolated, cut off from assist, and worst of all, shut up exclusively with and within himself and his infection of alcoholism. The usual answer, of course, is resumed drinking, more guilt, more shame, more psychotic projection and externalization, and more phobic-avoidance of those who could be of the most help.
The extraordinary alcoholic who manages to overcome, frequently by the pressure of a still greater fear or army acting upon him from behind, the formidable difficulties above and who as a result actually shows up, often full of horror and quivering at an AA meeting, faces still more jeopardies and difficulties before he can hope to tie up his weather-beaten ship and disembark in a safe harbor. Selective attention and disregard induce him to pay particular attention to some things and to forget or minimise others. The general focus of attention will naturally be upon preserving his security and self-esteem as he enterprises onto new and generally proscribing terrain for the first time. Guided by the” battle or flight” answer he will be sensitive to every cue that intimates a real or perceived threat to his already threatened ego. The mental defence mechanism of paranoid projection described above makes him to suffer his environ and the person or persons in it, including other alcoholics, as sinister and potentially critical, shaming and rejecting. This naturally sets him on “on guard” and on the lookout for danger.
One sometimes hears from alcoholics that as soon as they marched into an AA meeting for the first time they felt safe, secure and admitted- but a far more common reply is precisely the opposite one, in which the alcoholic seems, quite unrealistically, less safe and secure in an AA meeting than just about any region else in the world. Since a stereotype and certainly highly adaptive response to danger is to escaped from it, and since the typical alcoholic attending his first AA meeting will, by the mechanism of psychotic projection described here, experience himself to be in danger that comes from outside him and from which he was able to at least in theory run away, a natural answer is to scan and interpret the environment in such a style as to build a pressuring instance to vindicate the common and entirely visceral or gut tier desire to run away and never come back. Such” lawsuit constructing” would certainly be reactionary propaganda and rationalization, for the primary” flight reply” has already been activated, may in fact have been activated before the alcoholic ever even set foot in the session for the first time. But it is usually necessary to provide ourselves with a plausible face-saving excuse for actions that we suspect may be contrary to common sense or against our best interest, specially when they are driven by powerful emotional and therefore irrational armies which we do not care to admit openly to ourselves, much less to others. Alcoholics are no exception to this universal human tendency- certainly, they may represent breathtaking exaggerations of it, just as they sometimes seem to do of other common human fails and foibles.
In many, perhaps most instances the beginner will be scouring by default for signs of changes and disagreements with others rather than for evidence of similarity and agreement. The reason for this is obvious: the more ground he can amass to persuade himself and anyone else who might be interested that he” doesn’t really were within AA ,” the faster and more honorably he can beat the hasty retreat that both his addiction and his shattered and threatened ego desire him to make as soon as is practicable. Thus if he is not careful and is cognizant of the process he may very swiftly compiled a litany of grievances and differences that they are able to, at least in his own eyes, fully vindicate his own version of Caesar’s famous boast:” I saw, I ensure, and I decided AA was not for me .”
Further complicating these common psychological oppositions are the direct and indirect effects of alcohol and often other medications on the brain , outcomes which impair judging, attention, information processing, impulse govern and mood regulation. And it should not be forgotten that the alcoholic who is only hours, periods or weeks away from his last alcohol is always in a state of active booze withdrawal which further disrupts normal center nervous system operate and characteristically solutions in an anxious, irritable, negativistic state of mind. On pinnacle of all this, a significant number of individuals suffering from alcohol dependence( alcoholism) likewise exhibit symptoms of a feeling ailment such as depression or manic-depression ( bipolar disorder) as well as a primary feeling ailment such as social phobia ( social nervousnes disorder ).
Given all of the powerful obstacles and resistances to AA attendance and acceptance, the amaze is not that so many alcoholics refuse to go to meetings or, if they go, refuse to return- but that any at all do so and that at least some of these keep going back until they are able to connect with the program and begin to receive assistance from it. Many, though surely not all, of these success narrations have simply reached a time or been placed in circumstances in which the prospect of AA attendance, frightening and distasteful as it may at first be to them, is nevertheless for them the lesser of two cruelties, e.g. captivity, job loss, divorce, psychological misery or fatality from medical complications of alcoholism.