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Self-Psychological Understanding of Addiction and the Selfobject Function of Addiction Recovery Environment
Psychoanal 2019;30:19-24
Published online April 30, 2019;
© 2019 Korean Association of Psychoanalysis.

Soo-Hyun Paik1 and Jun-Seok Lee2

1Addiction Center, Keyo Hospital, Uiwang, Korea, 2Healing-Tree Psychiatric Clinic, Goyang, Korea
Jun-Seok Lee, MD, PhD, Healing-Tree Psychiatric Clinic, 43-20 Jeongbalsan-ro, Ilsandong-gu, Goyang 10402, Korea, Tel: +82-31-903-0123, Fax: +82-31-903-0124, E-mail:
Received February 11, 2019; Revised March 10, 2019; Accepted March 11, 2019.
cc This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Addiction is characterized as uncontrolled and excessive use of addictive substance or behavior, and consequential functional impairment. Since the addict’s psychic structure, known as “self,” is defective and may jeopardize psychic functions, mere abstinence cannot be the ultimate therapeutic goal. Rather, it is crucial to facilitate the growth of the “self” through long-term continuous care in the addiction recovery environment. This article provides an overview of self-psychological perspectives of addiction, and proposes selfobject functions of the addiction recovery environment. From the perspective of self-psychology, addiction is perceived as ‘deficit of self’, and is one of the symptoms of narcissistic behavior disorder. Addictive substances or behavior, also known as addictive trigger mechanisms (ATMs), have served as mirroring and idealizing selfobjects, though ending in futile attempts. The addiction recovery environment, which needs to substitute ersatz selfobject functions of ATM, should 1) consist of predictable and consistent settings, as an idealizing selfobject, 2) reflect and reward appropriately, as addicts achieve abstinence and realistic goals, as a mirroring selfobject, and 3) consist of other addicts desiring to stop using addictive substances or aberrant behavior, and share goals of total abstinence and the growth of the self as a twin-ship/alter ego selfobject. Though it takes substantial time and much effort, optimal selfobject functions provided by the addiction recovery environment, would facilitate recovery as a continuous process of the growth of the mature self.
Keywords : Addiction · Recovery · Self-psychology · Selfobject.

April 2019, 30 (2)
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