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Addicts in recovery: Re-covery in analysis?

The Letter, Issue 36, Spring 2006, Pages 80 - 86


Carol Owens

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.[1]

I'm not too in love, I'm not too high, lover I'll get by, faking my recovery.[2]

Whose signifier is this anyway?

Recovery... Re-Covery... 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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