Carol Owens – Addicts in Recovery – Re-Covery in Analysis

THE LETTER 36 (Spring 2006) pages 80-86

Alcoholics’ stories are narratives. They rise and fall with drama, humour and pathos. They’re descriptive and emotional, they’re sagas and parables. We tell them to each other a lot; they get polished and improved, and if you’re hearing one that isn’t slurred and burped or told with self-pity and anger you’re probably listening to a happy ending. The point is that they have a plot, but the plot is always retrospective. It’s a trail that becomes obvious after you’ve travelled it. While you were living it there was no plot, no plan, no goal, no grand design.

I’m not too in love, I’m not too high, lover I’ll get by, faking my recovery.

Whose signifier is this anyway? Recovery… Re-Co very… Re-Cover… Cover… Like the plot of the alcoholic sketched by A.A. Gill above, the meaning locked into the signifier ‘recovery’ is retrospectively located in the word – cover. My question today concerns the challenge posed to those of us who work psychoanalytically with clients who present as recovered addicts: how do we circumnavigate the ‘discourse of recovery’ within which former addicts locate themselves in order to mobilize a discourse of analysis which doesn’t reinforce a re-covering. …

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