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COA Week 2024

The charity NACOA provide an invaluable helpline for millions of children who live with an alcoholic parent. This week is COA week (Children of Alcoholics) which is an international campaign to raise the awareness of children affected by their parents drinking. This is crucial, not least because alcoholics and addicts are often COAs themselves. So breaking the silence that surrounds this topic can help break the familial cycle of addiction.

LAPC analyst Susan Tyler explores in the paper below, that was published in the British Journal of Psychotherapy, potential reasons why a high proportion of children of alcoholics develop significant substance misuse problems. She suggests it is potentially indicative of transgenerational trauma, which results in developmental deficits that may be managed by substance misuse. The paper describes how Jung’s concept of the transcendent function provides a powerful therapeutic tool to link divided and split off parts of the self in a containing matrix. This is contrasted with Kleinian approaches to addictive states of mind. The alcoholic defence or ‘solution’ is examined through a Jungian lens. The transformative potential lies in holding the tension between wanting to ‘give up’ the family cycle of alcoholism versus ‘giving in’ to the alcoholic solution. Moving away from an identification with the alcoholic solution involves mourning and loss which is often vehemently resisted. The value in Jung’s idea of the transcendent function is in the creative potential leading to growth arising from the dynamic tension of these opposites. The paper describes how they come together in fantasy, symbols and transference using a clinical case.

1 in 5 people in the UK are affected by a parent's drinking. #URNotAlone

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