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How would Psychologist Carl Jung explain why someone becomes an alcoholic or drug addict?


  1. I don’t believe Jung had any theories about causes of such addictions. He would have approached these matters as problems that he had a solution for, regardless of the cause, and that would have been in fomenting a change in the person’s attitude toward life in general, and by reference to the mythological basis for understanding our urges, goals, and means of coping with anxieties.

  2. Jung was actually consulted by Bill W and Dr. Bob back in the day when these two gentlemen were busy co-founding AA. Jung spoke of the importance of a ‘spiritual’ solution for alcoholism and the precedent set by the Oxford Group at that time.
    Today I would liken the journey of the alcoholic/addict to Joseph Campbell’s interpretation of mythology in The Power of Myth. Campbell, who was heavily influenced by Jung speaks of ‘the hero’s adventure.’ There are two types of these; one involves a ‘death and resurrection.’ During this part of the hero’s journey he/she wanders off into the wilderness or goes away in some form or another and there is a death of the old self and re-birth of the new. When I first saw The Power of Myth, this metaphor really resonated with me. While the journey of the addict is far from ideal in terms of experiences (and certainly lethal at times) the process is the same. Jung’s hero archetype provides a wonderful framework for the process of recovery from addiction.


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