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Anthropos and Shadow in Addiction:

A Jungian Basis for Understanding and Treatment


Presented by
Michael Marsman, LCSW


Link to audio file (no images were shown during this talk)


Sunday, October17, 2021, 4:00 - 6:00 pm PDT (UTC - 7)

Four months before his death, Carl Jung wrote to Bill W., one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, that the “helpful formula” for treating alcoholism is “spiritus contra spiritum”, or spirit against spirit, noting that the term used to denote the “highest religious experience” is also used for the “most depraving poison.” He describes alcoholism as “the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness…”  In this talk, we will explore addiction from a Jungian perspective by endeavoring to understand not just its pathological aspect (the reductive approach) but, more importantly, its transformative potential.  In approaching addiction from a symbolic perspective, we can better understand its telos or purpose in forcing the sufferer onto an individuating path leading towards, as Jung puts it, “the union with God.”  Approaches to treatment will be discussed, with a focus on Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon and other similar programs and the way in which they are designed to bring about spiritual/psychological healing through participation in community and the practice of the twelve steps.  Dreams, mythological motifs and other images will be used to help illustrate this talk.

Learning objectives:

  • Explain the difference between the pathological and prospective approaches in psychology.

  • Identify a purpose of addiction.

  • Explain the philosophy underlying the twelve step programs’ approach to addiction.

Michael Marsman, LCSW, is a certified Jungian analyst in private practice in Berkeley, California and is a member of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco and the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association (JPA) in New York. He is a graduate of the JPA, where he is a faculty member, supervisor and former board member.  Among his published works are: “Bringing Dharma to Earth: The Sabarimalai Pilgrimage and Ayyappan Myth," Spring Journal (2013); “Transgenderism and Transformation: An Attempt at a Jungian Understanding," Journal of Analytical Psychology (2017); and “Kali: In Praise of the Goddess," Psychological Perspectives (2019). Michael has taught and presented nationally and internationally on diverse topics such as Hindu mythology, analytic ethics, transgenderism, archetypes and the collective unconscious and amplification.  He is a board member and Treasurer of the Philemon Foundation. 


Hear Michael discuss addiction and other topics in a recent “Speaking of Jung” interview.


Willem de Kooning. Woman 1.1950-52.



Pre-registration is REQUIRED.  You will not be admitted to the Zoom session unless you have pre-registered.  Use this link to pre-register for this program.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Continuing Education (CE)

This course meets the qualifications for 2 CE hours for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs.


  • Use the CE Registration Form to pay $15 and register to be awarded 2 CE hours for this program.  

  • Attend the entire program (Zoom records the attendance times of attendees).

  • A Certificate of Completion will then be emailed within ten days.

For more information about the awarding of continuing education units, visit our CE web page.

If you are not satisfied with a program, please email us your grievance.

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