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A Welcome Antidote to the Evangelism of Compulsory Optimism and Resilience

DOI: 10.4236/aasoci.2017.72005, PP. 83-94

Keywords: Resilience, Deficit, Addiction, Twelve Step Therapy, Client Centred Practice, Cognitive Behavioural Practice, Motivational Interviewing

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This article problematizes the current western hubris around resilience and compulsory positivity that has ideologically insinuated itself into the addiction counselling treatment field. It argues that these discourses emanate less from clinical propositions but represent a virulent enactment of a neo-liberal agenda wherein language is implicated in the recreation of new subjectivities conducive to a declining social state. We also apprehend the ideological effect of verbal softeners, euphemisms and fabricated binaries and inversions routinely utilized by addiction clinicians enrolled as ground troops in this project. We also anticipate some likely challenges to this. The objective of this article is to reinstall the veracity of vulnerability and deficit appreciation, thus problematizing a prevailing Pollyanna version of resilience. It reviews the ineluctable alienating trajectory of lexicons used in the field over a few decades in various interventions, including Twelve Step Therapy, Client Centred Practice, Cognitive Behavioural Practice and Motivational Interviewing in order to show how clinicians now reproduce neo-liberal subjectivity through a language that constitutes subjectivity amenable to a declining social state. We apprehend grammatical structures that stigmatise sickness to reproduce hegemony of compulsory wellness.

When self-esteem, or others’ adulation,
Would cunningly persuade us we are something,
Above the common level of our kind,
The grave gainsays the smooth complexioned-flattery,
And with blunt truth acquaints us with what we are—The Grave by Robert Blair (Clymer, 1995)

Of the argument with others we make rhetoric,
Of the argument with ourselves we make poetry—W. B. Yeats (Bloom, 1970)


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