Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dreams of Alcoholic Men in Sobriety

Dreams of Alcoholic Men in Sobriety

Karen A. Peters, Ph.D.

"The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hours. Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and says no; drunkenness expands, unites, and says yes" (James,1901, p. 387).

A controlled study utilizing manifest dream content analysis to explore the intrapsychic dynamics of alcoholic men with 3 to 9 months of total abstinence revealed significant dream content differences. Two-week dream journals were collected from 14 men in early recovery from alcoholism and a matched control group. Statistically significant content differences included the incorporation of alcohol and drugs, sobriety, institutions, and help- seeking interactions. A qualitative analysis of statistically significant themes revealed the progressive nature of addiction and the developmental stages of sobriety.

Despite its adverse consequences, drinking alcohol is perceived as an option in the dreams of the recovering men in this study. Initially, alcohol is a soothing substance that transforms emotions and stimulates feelings of wholeness, but its extended use ultimately destroys all sense of belonging and leaves the alcoholic alienated and psychically fragmented. This paradoxical quality of alcohol was poignantly illustrated in dreams that featured drinking and using drugs.

Despite its occurrence after 9 months of abstinence, the following dream, from a married, 40 year-old alcoholic with a history of relapse and participation in Alcoholics Anonymous, depicts symptoms of late-stage alcoholism.

to read more of this study, click the link above.

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