Modern Psychodynamic Understanding of Addiction

Modern Psychodynamic Understanding of Addiction

About the Instructor

Lance Dodes, M.D. is a Training and Supervising Analyst Emeritus at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, member of the faculty of the New Center for Psychoanalysis (Los Angeles), and retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He has been the Director of the subst ance abuse treatment unit of Harvard’s McLean Hospital, Director of the Alcoholism Treatment Unit at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital (now part of Massachusetts General Hospital), and Director of the Boston Center for Problem Gambling. He is the author or co-author of many journal articles and book chapters about the psychology of addiction and the author of three books:

The Heart of Addiction
(HarperCollins, 2002)

Breaking Addiction: A 7-Step Handbook for Ending Any Addiction
(HarperCollins, 2011)

The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12- Step Programs and the Rehab Industry (Beacon Press, 2014; senior author).

Dr. Dodes has been honored by the Division on Addictions at Harvard Medical School for “Distinguished Contribution” to the study and treatment of addictive behavior, and has been elected a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. He has been asked to lecture across the United States, Canada, and Europe about the understanding of addiction he has developed.

Modern Psychodynamic Understanding of Addiction

About this Course

Addiction has long been deeply misunderstood in both our culture and clinical
practice. Rather than being a reflection of impulsivity, self-destructiveness or genetic or physical factors, addiction can be shown to be an understandable psychological symptom that is like other compulsive behaviors. Correspondingly, addiction for most people is highly treatable in psychodynamically-oriented psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. The course will address the role of physical, genetic, and neurobiological factors, the history of psychoanalytic views of addiction, current understanding, treatment approaches, the rehabilitation industry and 12-step programs and, as time permits, myths about addiction, couples therapy and related topics.

Course Objectives

  • Describe the development of psychoanalytic/psychodynamic views of addiction
  • Describe and apply the relationship of addictions to compulsions.
  • Describe the relative roles of physical and psychological factors in addiction.
  • Describe and critique non-psychological adjunctive treatments for addiction


  • 8:30 to 9:00 Registration
  • 9:00 to 1:00 Presentation with breaks as needed
  • Beverages and Snacks will be provided if in person


  • May 1, 2021
    9:00 am - 1:15 pm
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