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Jung’s link in the history of AA. ( History Week)

pic Carl Jung

Carl Gustav Jung 26July 1875 – 6 June 1961) was a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology. Jung proposed and developed the concepts of the extroverted and the introverted personality, archetypes, and the collective unconscious. His work has been influential in psychiatry and in the study of religion, literature, and related fields

Jung recommended spirituality as a cure for alcoholism and he is considered to have had an indirect role in establishing Alcoholics Anonymous.  Jung once treated an American patient (Rowland Hazard III), suffering from chronic alcoholism.  After working with the patient for some time and achieving no significant progress, Jung told the man that his alcoholic condition was near hopelessness, save only the possibility of a spiritual experience.   Jung had noted that occasionally such experiences had been known to reform alcoholics where all else had failed.

Rowland took Jung’s advice seriously and set about seeking a personal spiritual experience.  He returned home to the United States and joined a First-Century Christian evangelical movement known as the Oxford Group (later known as Moral Re-Armament).  He also told other alcoholics what Jung had told him about the importance of a spiritual experience.  One of the alcoholics he brought into the Oxford Group was Ebby Thacher, a long-time friend and drinking buddy of Bill Wilson, later co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Thacher told Wilson about the Oxford Group, and through them Wilson became aware of Hazard’s experience with Jung.  The influence of Jung thus indirectly found its way into the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous, the original twelve-step program, and from there into the whole twelve-step recovery movement, although AA as a whole is not Jungian and Jung had no role in the formation of that approach or the twelve steps.

The above claims are documented in the letters of Jung and Bill W. (I.e., Bill Wilson), excerpts of which can be found in Pass It On, published by Alcoholics Anonymous.  Although the detail of this story is disputed by some historians, Jung himself discussed an Oxford Group member, who may have been the same person, in talks given around 1940.  The remarks were distributed privately in transcript form, from shorthand taken by an attender (Jung reportedly approved the transcript), and later recorded in Volume 18 of his Collected Works, The Symbolic Life (“For instance, when a member of the Oxford Group comes to me in order to get treatment, I say, ‘You are in the Oxford Group; so long as you are there, you settle your affair with the Oxford Group.

Roland H later became the sponsor of Bill W’s life long friend Ebby.

 

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