'A rich and powerful pathway to a fully human spiritual life... Excellent... please read it.'
Carl Gustav Jung described the addict's craving as a 'thirst for wholeness.' Christina Grof, a pioneer in the transpersonal p
A provocative reevaluation of addictive behavior that considers it not within the prevalent "disease model," as California-based therapist Grof puts it, but within the context of a universal need for spiritual satisfaction. Grof's understanding of addiction is firsthand and bard-won: She's a recovering alcoholic and draws on her experience ("The day I hit bottom with my alcoholism, I was brought to my knees") to ground what's sometimes an otherwise heady, theory-laden argument. The heart of the argument is that society's growing tendency to consider all addiction - as well as the "attachments" (to money, prestige, other people, etc.) that characterize much human behavior - as disease "paints a picture of humanity as being universally sick." Instead, Grof proposes "a wellness model for the understanding and treatment of addictions." That model - worked out with reference to spiritual teachings from Hinduism to Jung - posits that we each consist of two "selves": a "deeper," perhaps divine, self that's our original nature, and a grafted-on "small self," equivalent to the ego. From prenatal clays onward, Grof says, we're pushed by outside, often abusive, forces away from the greater self and into the smaller self. Yet we retain a "craving" for the deeper self, which most of us try to slake through inappropriate means - through the pursuit of wealth, for example, or, in the ease of addicts, through drug highs. Addictive behavior thus springs from a healthy impulse to return to the deeper self - which, in fact, can be recovered only through spiritual practices (including, apparently, Orors own "Holotropic Breathwork," which she touts here). Addicts probably should work with the Twelve Steps, which the author reads as a spiritual blueprint, though one rife with pitfalls. Grof's two-selves model of human nature is as old as the myth of the Fall; but her application of it to addiction is inspired, well argued (though more case histories would have enlivened the text), and alight with hope and promise. (Kirkus Reviews)