Anne Wilson Schaef, Ph.D., DHL
Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
Honorary Doctorate in Human Letters – Kenyon College
- For those of you who have followed my work throughout the years and like updates.
- For those of you who wondered if I have dropped off the face of the earth.
- For those of you who have never heard of me and might be interested in what I have done and what I am doing.
- And for this younger generation who have discovered the books I have already published and are clamoring for more.
This blog is for you (and anyone else who might be interested).
- As some of you know, I started out my professional life as a psychologist/psychotherapist working mostly with individuals, families, and groups.
I loved the work and I always felt that something was missing.
- I was active in the Civil Rights Movement as my family had been strong Civil Rights advocates (for everyone!) all my life.
- I was very active in Feminism as a Second Wave Feminist. I brought all those experiences and learnings into my work as a psychotherapist. Very soon, I learned that most, if not all the major theories in psychology were developed by men theorizing for men and their assumptions and concepts lacked something in the needs of women – – and of gays. So, a group of us got a grant to develop the Women’s Institute of Alternative Psychotherapy. Ultimately the in-fighting among women (supported by several men and the system) made it impossible to continue. That was alright as I learned heaps in the process, painful though it was, and continued on with my work.
The Next Phase
- I began to develop an alternative way of working with people, facilitating their healing always in groups and community – – now a very active international community called Living in Process.
We have active ongoing groups in the United States, Canada, Europe and the South Pacific.
- I had come to believe that psychology (and even medicine) as we know it is not really focused on healing. It is focused on helping one adjust and survive in a dysfunctional society. What I was hoping for, for all of us, was not adjustment to dysfunction. What I was searching for was healing into wholeness for ourselves and more and more for the entire human race and the planet. So, I left the field of psychology.
- During this period, I found more and more indigenous healers and spiritual leaders coming into my life and affirming what I knew deep in my soul.
- By this time, there was a network of people doing the Living in Process work throughout the world.
Addictions and the Addictive Process
- Then, I discovered addictions and became fascinated that as a professional, I knew little or nothing about addictions. I thought I did, I did have a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and had studied with many of the then “greats.”
And, I knew little or nothing about addictions. I plunged into doing the Twelve-Step program of AA, even though I was not an alcoholic. Very quickly I discovered I could not learn in an abstract. It was a program built on participation.
- I was intrigued with addictions and how much they were integrated into the society. I could see that not only did Western Culture support addictions, it required them in order to be able to tolerate the society we had created.
- I worked with people addicted to substances – alcohol, drugs, prescription drugs, food, sugar, nicotine, coffee – anything we took into our bodies to give us a fix and reduce our awareness and presence.
Then, I began to focus on the process addictions – work, sex, shopping, gambling – you name it. The process addictions are very integrated into society and therefore, I believe, extremely difficult to deal with.
I have been working with some people in active recovery consistently for over 30 years.
Long-time recovery has its own pitfalls and patterns.
In the process of adding recovery to the Living in Process work I came to see that the Twelve-Step programs can only go so far – as Bill W. realized before he died. It is, after all, developed by addicts who live in an addictive society.
I was looking for healing – not adjustment.
And, I still think it is the best and most effective tool we have to deal with addictions.
During that time I published a) When Society Becomes an Addict, a New York Times bestseller, b) Codependence: Misunderstood, Mistreated, and c) Escape from Intimacy about sexual, romance and relationship addiction.
The Living in Process work has three elements: 1) dealing with addictions and the underlying, culturally supported addictive process; 2) doing our deep process work which bypasses our conscious minds and heals us deep in our being, bringing more of the unconscious and unaware into consciousness and healing at a soul level and, 3) slowly making a paradigm shift into a new way of living and being in this world. It is great work and, unlike psychotherapy, heals beyond adjustment.
Then an amazing thing happened.
– I discovered that I was over half Cherokee, and Irish and a smidgen of English.
– I also discovered I had been raised as a traditional Cherokee woman without having been told that and,
– I came from a line of strong Medicine Women and Healers as well as a male Shamanistic line.
My parents had not told me that I was Cherokee to protect me from being dragged off to a boarding school. They had sacrificed the comfort and nurturance of their heritage to see that I would be protected from the horrors of the boarding schools. They had passed for white and made sure I received an excellent “white” education while living out of a Cherokee heritage!
When I learned this, my life suddenly made sense to me in a way it never had before.
Then my life changed suddenly.
Some Tough Years
I acquired a stalker – a very dangerous stalker. It appeared that this was related to some who were not happy with the focus I had on addictions and my belief in an abstinence model. Who knows? I did not see myself as that successful or important. He was very good at what he did (he had a history of stalking important people – I felt a bit pleased to be in such good company) and it was awful. For example, once when I was going to give a speech in Sydney, Australia, he made so many threats that the sponsoring group felt like they had to hire a bodyguard!! I kept saying, “I’m not that important!” and, I loved having a bodyguard. For the first time in a long time, I felt safe. He had been the bodyguard for Princess Diana when she was in Australia and was a wonderful human being.
If this is what it meant to be coming up in the world, I wanted no part of it!
Thanks to my stalker, I changed directions. I now can see this whole painful process as just what I needed.
- Because of the constant threats and stress, I:
- withdrew from publishing books.
- quit doing speaking engagements and got off the speaking circuit.
- concentrated on working with the Living in Process groups throughout the world.
- most importantly, took time to be with and learn from native elders (they all said that they knew I was an Indian and were just waiting for me to realize it!).
- explored what it meant to be a “typical Cherokee woman” – which I definitely am.
- did my own personal LIP work and got clearer on who I am and why I am here.
If it had not been for my “stalker” I would probably not have taken the time I needed to withdraw, do my inner work, and come back even stronger.
I’m Back, Stronger than Ever
A. During this “time out” almost twenty years, I:
1. faced my fears and uncertainties.
2. got clear that I have always been trying to live the life that I am meant to live.
I have always believed that each of us is here for a purpose and it is our responsibility to heal and learn from our life experiences (none of us is perfect, none of us had perfect families and none of us lives in a perfect culture) – we need to learn and heal from our experiences whatever they are, and grow psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually to contribute what we can.
As Frank Fools Crow, the great Lakota Spiritual Leader used to say, “We need to become a hollow bone so the Creator can work through us.” These words are the guiding light of my life.
3. How lucky I was to have a stalker who made my life so miserable that I had to take the time to find my strong Cherokee woman, my strong Irish wisdom and just enough English to be able to figure out what that Western culture is doing!
B. Now that I am 80, I have enough perspective to see:
- the patterns, processes and reasons in my own life and,
- those in the culture.
- while doing the LIP work internationally, the patterns and processes of cultural differences and those of the planet.
I did not stop writing during this period. I only stopped publishing. I have written: poetry, short stories, a screenplay, a novel, essays, newsletters and children’s stories – you name it – and I never stopped thinking and observing and putting things together. I have always had the feedback from my books that I have “written what the reader ‘knows’ and could never quite articulate.” I hope that continues.
So Where Are We?
- I have a new book coming out, Becoming a Hollow Bone: Responding to the Call of our Ancestral Blood.
- I have a new women’s book coming out A Thousand Years of Peace and Prosperity and – – – They Will be Ushered in by the Women.
- I have another book almost finished Daily Reminders for Living a New Paradigm.
- I have another book ready called Total Societal Transformation.
- I am now focusing on the long detour the human race has been on and the need to get back on track as a species.
- I have the women’s book coming out in German and Croatian soon as well as Hollow Bone.
- Most of my previous books are out in e-books.
- I am planning a world speaking tour to connect with those who want to hear what this 80-year-old grandmother has to say.
- We have a Facebook page up and running and this new blog plus Twitter so you can keep up with me if you want to.
I absolutely love being 80 and according to Fools Crow, I will live to be 98-years-old, so I have lots to do in these next 18 years. For those who want to join me, I expect it to be a great ride.
I’ll keep you posted.
Love to you all,
Anne Wilson Schaef, Ph.D.