In my book I present three ways by which one can cure the alcoholic or drug dependent person. In one of these I draw on what Eric Berne says about treating alcoholism. I state:
“…the dependent drug user can switch the addiction. In discussing addictions Eric Berne (1972) says, “What such people need is permission to stop taking drugs, which means permission to leave their mothers and strike out for themselves, and that is what the highly successful Synanon movement provides. Where mother’s injunction says “Don’t leave me!” Synanon says “Stay here instead.” (p.185-186). He also says elsewhere, “Curing an addict is the easiest thing in the world – if. All we have to do is find something that will interest him more than the thing he is addicted to. We can cure any alcoholic if we can find something that will interest him more than alcohol does. So far nobody has found any such thing that will work in all cases.” (p.215), Berne (1957). He is suggesting the idea of switching addictions.” (end quote)
His views on alcoholism at least on this point are consistent with mine. I suggest that alcohol dependence results from unresolved dependency issues with mother in the primary attachment as a young child. As we see, he says the alcoholic has the injunction from mother – “Don’t leave me.”. Thus the mother is wanting the child to remain dependent on her and hence we have the unresolved dependency issues in the alcoholic.
Using this model the therapist encourages the client to develop a dependency on him/her and then work through the developmental issues of that dependency. In essence the client becomes temporarily addicted to the therapist and the therapy.