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This theory does not assume that problems of adjustment can always be blamed on the parents. People do not react to their parents as they really are but to parental imagoes—unconscious images that are heavily influenced by fantasies and archetypal contents. Furthermore, in specific cases, a host of constitutional, social, and environmental factors also enter into a person's decision to try or use drugs. Nevertheless, the theory does recognize the existence of certain modal patterns in drug users' reports of their early developmental years.

Most typically, the chronic amphetamine users we have studied report that they grew up in families with relatively strong but highly manipulative mothers and passive or ineffectual fathers. The mothers of these men emerge as devious, ensnaring women ("spider women") who skillfully, though not always consciously, practice complex acts of deceit and deception to keep their men firmly within their web of control. The controlling and potentially castrating mother handicapped the boy in developing a strong ego, and the absence of a strong father left the boy without a firm sense of masculine identity. The solution commonly adopted by the boy was not only to deny feelings of helplessness and fears of impotence but to convert them into their opposites by assuming a phallic and hypermasculine posture toward life. As adults, these men fear the feminine and view women as creatures to be conquered, overcome, used, or exploited. They take great pride in their sexual prowess, for it provides them proof of their manhood and emancipation from the "spider" mother of childhood. Chronic amphetamine users tend to be driven, sometimes violent, but achievement-oriented men who are strongly reactive against threats of weakness or impotence. Typically, they are unreflective action-oriented men who lack insight or rigidly deny the reality of their psychic lives. Nevertheless, they are subject to numinous influences that seem to be dragging them inexorably downward into the maw of the everthreatening maternal figure.

ln contrast, narcotics abusers typically said they came from psychologically disabled families, in which one parent (often the father) was absent or was an overpowering tyrant, while the other parent (often the mother) was too weak or ineffectual to protect the son from the attacks or intimidations of the other. As adults, the opiate users we studied were seriously disabled individuals who maintained tenuous and unstable adjustments. Their egos were poorly or weakly differentiated. Although they showed greater overall personal disturbance than cocaine or amphetamine users, they did not display a distinctive set of symptoms. With few exceptions, the narcotics abusers were vulnerable people who relied on ego constriction as a primary defense. Typically, they are isolated individuals who live quiet, lonely, and unambitious lives. Unlike cocaine and amphetamine abusers, narcotics abusers do not seek stimulation but steadfastly avoid it. They seek a tranquil, serene existence through ego constriction; they would rather withdraw from the problems of life than conquer them.

The cocaine users we studied seemed to have progressed further along the developmental path than men in the other groups. Most described early lives characterized by a rather high level of positive family feeling. Most described their mothers as warm and their fathers as strong and encouraging. As adults, the cocaine users are ambitious, intensely competitive men who work hard to become successful. They like to take risks and live by their wits. They have stronger and more resilient egos than men in the other drug-user groups. They display a more intense commitment and willingness to struggle to

overcome their environment but are highly prone to symptoms of alienation from the psyche. They think of themselves as self-directed, self-sufficient, competent people—proud, energetic men who live life to the full and are capable of carrying pleasure to its extreme. The key to understanding the cocaine users we studied is their intense counterdependency, their need to be completely self-sufficient. They cannot lean on others, turn to other people for help, or admit weakness of any kind. They take cocaine to expand their egos and their selfconfidence. ln addition, they report that the drug produces temporary psychological states that are so ecstatic that life and fulfillment seem complete, if only for a moment.

By contrast, barbiturate users seemed to grow up lacking meaningful relationships with either parent. Most described families with uninterested, neglecting fathers and timorous, dependent, and ineffectual mothers. Most were reared in emotional wastelands and might have been better off psychologically if their parents had been openly rejecting. The typical son seems to have concluded that, if he could not gain recognition by pleasing his parents, perhaps he could make them acknowledge his existence by granting their apparent wishes and failing at everything. Barbiturate abusers repeatedly perform acts which seemingly tempt fate to destroy them. They report an alarmingly high incidence of fights, car wrecks, accidents, and drug overdoses. From an observer's point of view, these men as adults seem actively to seek defeat. However, from their own point of view they seek escape from their personal distress, frustrations, and failures, and barbiturates provide them a vehicle which allows them to do it. lt is not that these men enjoy defeat. Each succeeding setback and reversal adds to the gradual disintegration of the self and increases the internal pressures and frustrations these men feel. They are like boilers about to explode, for their frequent failures and frustrations cause a rapid buildup of tension that they are unable to express in a controlled way. For them, barbiturates precipitate the inevitable; by artificially reducing ego inhibitions, these drugs provide the counterfeit courage the men need to release pent-up destructive forces. The drugs give the user a ticket to oblivion, thereby permitting him to get away from his sense of failure for a period of time, or they set the conditions which allow the user to release his tensions in arguments, brawls, and accidents, with no subsequent sense of guilt, responsibility, or even awareness of what happened.


As indicated above, relations between ego and environment are like those between figure and ground in gestalt psychology. These may vary along two major dimensions. The first is ego expansion versus ego contraction. Ego expansion implies growth in the person's figural ego, his sense of dominance or control over both self and environment. Ego contraction implies reduction of ability to manage the environment; in contraction, the ego protects its integrity by limiting its figural relation with the ground of the surrounding world.

The second dimension is ego/self synthesis versus ego/self dissolution. Synthesis of ego and self occurs when transcendent experiences lead the person to believe that the bounds of ordinary reality have been surpassed and a mystical truth discovered. ln ego/self dissolution, all sense of personal continuity and responsibility is lost, so that the state is one of psychological oblivion.

Chronic drug users attempt to avoid the suffering that would be necessary to reestablish normal individuation. They use pharmacological means either to escape their personal dilemmas or to achieve ego states that would in other persons be associated with increasing selfhood. The states they achieve are actually counterfeit, because, while their practical effects are real enough, they produce no permanent change in personal structure and typically do not outlast the period of drug usage.


Our studies indicate that stimulants, such as amphetamines and cocaine, produce ego inflation or expansion, which is experienced by the user as an increase in bodily warmth, exhilaration and euphoria, enhanced self-awareness, feelings of supreme self-confidence, and a sense of mastery over fate and the environment. With large doses and chronic use of these drugs, the figural ego becomes so grossly inflated that the normal ego-environment relationship is overbalanced. The bloated ego becomes threatened by impulses it can no longer control, and reality testing becomes impaired. At this stage, the ego may implode, producing the well-known amphetamine or cocaine psychosis.

Several differences exist between the expansive effects produced by these two drugs. First, chronic cocaine users do not display the stereotypy or patterns of compulsive behavior that are found in amphetamine abuse. Second, cocaine abuse seems less conducive to direct violence than does amphetamine abuse. Finally, cocaine produces less hyperactivity than amphetamine. The amphetamine-induced ego state mobilizes the user for action. The cocaine-induced ego state is not a means but an end. The user has no further goal. His only problem is that he must continue using the drug to stay where he is.


The ego states induced by narcotics are the opposites of those aroused by stimulants. Narcotics (i.e., opium, its derivatives, and semisynthetic substitutes) produce ego contraction: a disengagement from the environment and withdrawal into a quiescent state and detachment of concern. Massive doses may induce a stuporous or comatose condition that could culminate in death due to respiratory arrest. The euphoria that accompanies narcotics use is not the sort that is associated with conquest or achievement but with relief from tension or from engagement with worldly affairs. Although care is suspended, the typical user does not seek complete loss of ego relationships with the environment; even an addict who is on a deep and pleasurable nod may be provoked into activity by stimulating or irritating events. Narcotics addicts seem to feel they have achieved an ethereal experience of peace, contentment, and serenity which makes normal activity, striving, or achievement unnecessary or trivial.


Despite the fact that barbiturates are classified as depressants and are thought of as having effects similar to narcotics, the two types of substances produce strikingly different ego states. ln low doses, barbiturates produce mild sedation. However, in chronic heavy use.

the person becomes increasingly disabled, and a state of ego/self dissolution ultimately ensues. All ego functions are crippled; thinking and reality-testing decline, and visual-motor coordination, speech, memory, concentration, and judgment are impaired. ln the ego state induced by barbiturates the user abandons responsibility for and awareness of his actions; some fall into a comatose condition which can bring about death. Others enter a disoriented state (similar, apparently, to that produced by heavy use of alcohol) in which they commit destructive acts with no concern for or awareness of consequences. They become belligerent, quarrelsome, and abusive, and engage in fights, arguments, and other violent confrontations. They are frequently the victims of accidents. The psychological state induced by barbiturate abuse might well be called oblivion, because, while in it, the users are all but egoless.


We have not studied persons with a commitment to psychedelic drugs (such as LSD-25). However, the literature suggests that such drugs induce a state of apparent transcendence, or synthesis of the ego and the self. These drugs produce profound alterations in sensory experiences as well as mood. lt is believed by some that psychedelics produce a religious or spiritual state in which the user feels outside ordinary reality, at one with the cosmos. Some users report gaining insight into the nature of the universe and purpose of life, the oneness, brotherhood, and togetherness of all living things. However, since "bad trips" may also occur, it is likely that set and setting strongly influence responses to psychedelic substances.


Clearly, chronic use or abuse of differing classes of drugs produces radically different ego states. These transformations are diagrammed in figure 1. This figure shows a matrix of dimensions that may be used to define the ego states induced by five major substances of abuse. The horizontal axis represents ego contraction (minus) and ego expansion (plus). The vertical axis represents ego/self dissolution (minus) it the bottom and self/ego integration at the top.

As products of like signs, the upper right and lower left quadrants are labeled plus. They represent generally pleasant experiences, which differ mainly in that those in the upper right are active, while those in the lower left are passive. The upper left and lower right quadrants are labeled minus and represent generally unpleasant, ego-alien, or disintegrative experiences. Those in the lower right are directed outward toward the environment either through projection or direct physical attack, while those in the upper left are directed inward, arise from, and are contained within the psychological structure of the person. The representation of two dark and two light quadrants indicates that the counterfeit states induced by abuse of various drugs can have both positive (or light) and negative (or dark) side effects.

The top of the diagram is also labeled transcendence. lt represents experiences that lead the user to believe that the bounds of ordinary reality have been surpassed and a mystical truth discovered. The bottom of the diagram is labeled oblivion and represents the fact that, in this state, all sense of personal continuity is lost. The left side of

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