Dissertation Oral Defenses

Tuesday, 22 December 2015 15:54

Sunday, January 17, 2016, Jane Elise Gaunt, Depth Psychology: "The Necessity of Failure, Women’s Severe Substance Use Disorders, Long Term Recovery, and Relapse"

DATE: Sunday, January 17, 2016 
TIME:  12:30 P.M.
PLACE: Lecture Hall, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE:  Jane Elise Gaunt
PROGRAM/TRACK/YEAR:  Depth Psychology, PhD T, 2008
DISSERTATION TITLE: The Necessity of Failure, Women’s Severe Substance Use Disorders, Long Term Recovery, and Relapse
CHAIR:  Dr. Patricia O. Katsky
READER:  Dr. Mike Denney
EXTERNAL READER:  Dr.William White
Gaunt, J. (2015) The Necessity of Failure, Women’s Severe Substance Use Disorders, Long Term Recovery, and Relapse, (Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2015)


This study explores what happened that led a woman with long term recovery from a severe substance use disorder back into active addiction. Recovery over the long term requires ongoing personal development and involves awareness and interaction between both conscious and unconscious aspects of the psyche. Long term recovery was likened to C.G. Jung’s concept of individuation and it can be imagined that relapse occurs when a woman’s commitment to abstinence cannot withstand the alchemical pressures involved in moving through a difficult period. A method of Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis was employed as a means to explore the themes and patterns which emerged in narratives obtained through interviews and writings of six women who relapsed after more than ten years abstinence and had been previously active in twelve step based recovery. Patterns expressed in the narratives suggested that an initially insufficient understanding or limited personal investment in the recovery process, as well as, undertreated co-occurring disorders were factors that facilitated a return to active addiction. These dynamics seemed to reduce resiliency and allowed the women to justify a pharmaceutical solution when intense life stressors manifested and the participant became isolated. Relapse is a reality that may benefit from re-conceptualization and for some can be an indispensable continuation of the recovery process. The experience of failure seemed necessary and though the experience was painful and perilous, each of the women reported that their recovery was ultimately strengthened from it.

Key words: substance use disorders, relapse, Women, long term recovery and individuation


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Last modified on Tuesday, 22 December 2015 15:59
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