Psychodynamic therapy was the brainchild of Sigmund Freud, who first created I as psychoanalysis, a type of therapy focused on the patient and therapist dialogue.
For Freud, the goal of psychoanalysis was to strengthen the ego. Because many recovering addicts have struggles with both ego and identity, psychodynamic therapy and psychoanalysis can be a beneficial approach to addiction therapy.
Freud believed that through psychoanalysis the individual can become less self-critical and better able to tolerate a range of emotional experiences. The notion is that personal growth requires self-acceptance, another area that people with addictive tendencies have trouble with.
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on increasing personal awareness of our unconscious motives and the ability to manage and integrate unconscious desires.
Increasing Awareness With Addiction Therapy
Freud viewed addictive and compulsive behavior as a defensive strategy used by an individual to avoid feelings of powerlessness. In this manner, addiction is seen as an attempt to compensate for inner feelings of emptiness.
Someone who is an addict attempts to compensate for these feelings with addictive behavior. This is why many recovering addicts describe having low self-esteem and loneliness.
Addictive behaviors can provide a false sense of acceptance and temporary self-confidence. It also enable the addict to create an imaginary world in which he has total control. Part of the recovery process in addiction therapy is to examine this faulty thinking and learn to live in a world more based in reality.
The psychodynamic concept of addiction sees addictive behavior as a disorder of self-regulation. Research has found support for this theory based on findings that individuals with a history of exposure to adverse childhood environments typically have a reduced ability to regulate negative emotions and cope effectively with stress.
Addiction Therapy and Experiencing Joy
These individuals often self-medicate co-existing mental health problems, most notably anxiety and mood disorders. The ultimate success of addiction therapy and the lasting change needed to remain abstinent require that the individual in recovery accepts previously inaccessible feelings. I have found that helping people in recovery to increase the ability for self-reflection can lead to the ability to manage difficult emotions and to experience real joy.