Conscience in Recovery from Alcohol Addiction
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206 pages

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Academic research in alcohol addiction presents diverse results and subject inadequacies. This study identifies conscience and its influence through spirituality on successful recovery as promoting unity and adequacy in the field. The purpose of the study is to analyze the relationship between conscience, spirituality, and recovery from alcohol addiction. This threefold framework underlines the conceptual importance of cognition, affect, behavior, spirituality, and character in addiction studies. Narrative analysis (NA) is employed for designing the present research. It is utilized for collection, examination, and formulation of the results derived from the participants' stories. Semi-structured interviews are used within the NA framework to provide the data from the twelve participants. The latter are selected as a homogeneous group based on characteristics of their addiction, spirituality, and recovery. The analysis of narratives defines conscience with its cognitive, emotive, and conative elements as related to spirituality. The conscience's nature and functioning undergo deterioration during addiction and complete rejuvenation through participants' spiritual transformation of a transcendent divine experience. Spiritually empowered conscience supports progressive recovery from alcohol addiction. The conscientious approach to self, life, and others is shaped by virtue and spiritual commitment.



Publié par
Date de parution 01 février 2013
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781621895497
Langue English

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Conscience in Recovery from Alcohol Addiction

Exploring the Role of Spirituality in Conscientious Transformation
Yordan Kalev Zhekov
Foreword by Geoffrey M. Stephenson
Conscience in Recovery from Alcohol Addiction
Exploring the Role of Spirituality in Conscientious Transformation

Copyright © 2013 Yordan Kalev Zhekov. All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical publications or reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher. Write: Permissions, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 199 W. 8th Ave., Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401.

Resource Publications
An Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 W. 8th Ave., Suite 3
Eugene, OR 97401

ISBN 13: 978-1-62032-498-1
EISBN 13: 978-1-62189-549-7
Manufactured in the U.S.A.
T he publication of Yordan Zhekov’s book is a welcome event that contributes to a resurgence of interest in the role of spirituality and the moral dimension in our understanding of the nature of addiction, and of how problems of addiction should be tackled by psychologists. I will try to place it more specifically in context.
Psychology has generally striven to be value free, to describe what is, and not what ought to be, and to emphasise management of misconduct and not its condemnation. Indeed, the concept of misconduct has largely been alien to mainstream psychology. Behaviour has been the operative construct in the description of human actions, not conduct. The concept of “behaviour” as employed by Behaviourists was neutral as to responsibility for actions, and fostered the belief that referring to behaviour as “conduct” implied a sphere of moral responsibility that was irrelevant to psychology as an objective scientific enterprise. The neglect of what might be termed “character” over many decades was one unfortunate consequence, but happily there are serious attempts now being made, particularly in the area of “positive psychology,” to remedy previous neglect. Zhekov’s elucidation of the way in which spirituality can lead to a regeneration of conscience in the recovery of those with problems of addiction is a welcome contribution to this movement.
Another example of the changing scene can be taken from social psychology. One of the most influential theories in mainstream social psychology is the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, first promulgated by Leon Festinger. Dissonance is said to occur when, for example, our awareness of what we do (let’s say, smoke tobacco) is contradicted by evidence of its effects on health, or perhaps our family finances. These cognitions suggest that we should break with the habit. Festinger characterised our response to such “cognitive dissonance” as a feeling of “discomfort,” which we are motivated to reduce, perhaps, in the smoking example, by the creation of comforting beliefs about the social benefits of smoking (not so easy now it is banned in public settings), or by “denial” as in the case of addicts more generally. “Discomfort,” however, is another of those morally neutral constructs that has increasingly been shown to be inadequate as a description of what generally motivates the reduction of dissonance in the various paradigms that have guided research. A recent review (*) shows rather that it is feelings of guilt that drive the individual to seek, by whatever dubious stratagems, to change their perceptions of the conflict between what we do and what we ought to be doing.
Zhekov’s work is consistent with this new emphasis, showing how addiction can become a stratagem for the management of guilt. The escalation of excessive behaviour, well revealed in his interviews, shows clearly the process whereby conscience and the capacity for moral judgement may be progressively, and remorselessly undermined. His development of the notion of “conscience therapy” is remarkable for the fact that it shows in a vivid way that a spiritual awakening can revive the functioning of conscience, and motivate the practice of choice guided by moral values. Zhekov would reject the lamentable “moral model” which passes moral judgement on the addict, and he respects the abundant mainstream research into the “biopsychosocial” underpinnings of addictive behaviours which has so effectively undermined that approach. What Yordan Zhekov has achieved is to expand more thoroughly than has been achieved in the past, the role that spirituality can play in transforming the lives of addicts through a revitalised sense of conscience. This is a significant achievement that contributes effectively to the development of a more humane and responsible understanding of the psychology of addiction.
Geoffrey M. Stephenson
Emeritus Professor of Social Psychology,
University of Kent, Canterbury, UK

July 2012

* Kenworthy, J. B., Miller, N., Collins, B. E., Read, S. J., and Earleywine, M. (2011). A trans-paradigm theoretical synthesis of cognitive dissonance theory: Illuminating the nature of discomfort. European Review of Social Psychology 22, 36–113.
defining conscience and its relationship to immorality, addiction, morality, spirituality, and recovery through a survey of relevant scholarship
A lcohol addiction is a complex phenomenon and scholarly attempts to formulate it have produced diverse results. These may even stay in tension when considering the issue of manageability as in the case of the historical perspectives of moral failure and illness (Raskin and Daley, 1991). The view of addiction as a disorder underlines a cognitive and behavioural preoccupation with the substance, impaired control, and disregard of damaging effects (ICD-10, 1993). The negative consequences of addictive behaviour are perceived as established through continuous bonding to substance related contextual stimuli (West, 2001). The relationship between cognition and environmental stimuli (Albery, Sharma, Niazi, and Moss, 2006) clarifies addiction processes through automaticity (Bargh, 1997) and attentional bias (Sharma, Albery, and Cook, 2001). Excessive desire is considered as the central addictive force leading to repetitive unpredictable behaviour underlined by conflict (Orford, 2001). These approaches stressing moral unwillingness, disease inability, unhealthy attachment, contextual dependence, and intemperate appetite, enlighten various aspects of alcohol addiction but also highlight disunity. The diversity creates a methodological and pragmatic gap which requires a unifying concept suggested as conscience and its relation to morality and spirituality. These core elements of transformation on the road to a successful recovery are overlooked by the contemporary scholarship (Orford, 2001). Spiritual conversion is underrepresented in psychology and counselling studies (Mahoney and Pargament, 2004). Further research is needed to clarify the relationship between an individual’s holistic spirituality and alcohol treatment (Piderman, Schneekloth, Pankratz, Maloney, and Altchuler, 2007; Patock-Peckham, Hutchinson, Cheong, and Nagoshi, 1998) and between religiousness and conscience (Chau, Johnson, Bowers, Darvill, and Danko, 1990).
The present proposal suggests that spiritually empowered conscience leads to moral effectiveness, conscious control, and physical, cognitive, spiritual, and virtuous manageability of the addictive behaviour. Conscience which has been deadened and morally inactive is empowered and renewed through moral reformation and spiritual edification making it ethically sound, consciously involved, and spiritually active to enable decisions which break the addictive behaviour patterns. This model requires an understanding of the nature of conscience, its suppressed state, spiritual empowerment, and virtuous development.
1.1. Conscience’s nature and functioning: cognitive, emotive, and conative elements
Conscience is considered as defined by three elements, namely, cognitive, emotive, and conative (Koops, Brugman, and Ferguson, 2010). Cognitively conscience forms a decision about behaviour based on morally defined assessment (Koops, Brugman, and Ferguson, 2010). The moral reasoning is strengthened through one’s belief system with absolute qualities grounded on divine perfection leading to fulfilment of personal, spiritual, and social responsibilities (McCosh, 1887). The theological notion of righteousness defines the divine influence on conscience through the Bible as a literary source of authority (Wall, 1996). One’s self-understanding also shapes conscience (Wall, 1996). The latter is crucial for resolving internal personal conflicts (Miller and Jackson, 1995). Conscience and its relationship to the unconscious and conscious find their historical roots in Freud’s work (Natsoulas, 2005. Freud’s phenomenology ). Conscience is a guide for conscious processes and automatic behaviour through developing affective familiarity to the context by conscious employment of conscientious behaviours (Martin, 2006). The importance of conscience in a health care context (Ladd, 2007; Cook, 2007) for both professionals (Dahlqvist, Eriksson, Glasberg, Lindahl, Lutzen, Strandberg, Soderberg, Sørlie, and Norberg, 2007) and patients (Cook, 2007) may underline its potential to impact addiction related automaticity leading to conscious behavioural change.
Conscience defines the emotions accompanying ethical deduction and wilful inclination (Koops, Brugman, and Ferguson, 2010). The affective conscience responds to the self-assessment of internal thoughts and external actions according to thei

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